What are the stages of colon cancer?1

Staging is the process of finding out how far a cancer has spread.

Stage I

Stage I cancers have grown into the muscular wall of the intestine but have not spread beyond it.

The affected part of the colon is usually removed, along with its lymph nodes, during surgery.

Stage II

Stage II cancers have spread beyond the muscular layers of the large intestine (stage IIB) or into nearby tissue (stage IIC). The cancer has not yet reached the lymph nodes.

For colon cancer, the affected section of the colon is surgically removed. Chemotherapy may also be recommended after surgery. For rectal cancer, the affected section of the rectum is surgically removed; chemotherapy or radiation may be recommended before or after surgery.

Stage III

Stage III cancers have spread to the lymph nodes. This is considered an advanced stage.

For colon cancer, surgery is usually done first, followed by chemotherapy. For rectal cancer, chemotherapy and radiation may come before or after surgery.

Stage IV

Stage IV cancers have spread to other organs such as the liver, lungs, or ovaries. This is considered an advanced stage.

In some cases, the cancer can be removed during surgery. If surgery cannot remove all affected areas, chemotherapy, radiation, or both may be recommended to relieve, delay, or prevent symptoms and discomfort.

Regular screening can find colon cancer early, before it spreads

The earlier colon cancer is found, the easier it is to treat. This is why regular screening is worthwhile—it has the potential to save lives. Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor and get screened regularly.

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