Colon cancer staging explains the extent of damage the tumor has done in your colon and rectum. Understanding the different stages will help you in knowing what to expect and how to cope with the symptoms.
The stages also help your doctor decide on the best possible type/s of treatment because the success rate of the treatment depends on the staging of your tumor.
Like any other solid tumor, TNM staging from 0 to 4 is used in describing it. Visible signs are important indicators of the different stages.
The 5 stages are further divided into 2: early (0 to 2) and advanced (3 and 4).
The tumor is in situ or is confined to the innermost tissue of the bowel or rectum.
At this staging, the tumor does not exhibit any outward warning signs or symptoms. But precancerous polyps can already be found if you undergo colonoscopy. That's why if you notice any abnormal changes in your bowel movements, please see your doctor.
Examples of abnormal changes are if you used to move your bowels daily and now you do it either only 2 to 3 times a week -- constipation -- or 2 to 3 times a day -- diarrhea -- and this happens frequently.
At this staging, the tumor has now spread and has formed outside the innermost lining of the bowel walls. But it is still confined in the middle layers of the bowel. The tumor is also called Dukes A bowel tumor.
Surgery is the recommended first treatment at stages 0 to 1. 5-year survival rate for patients who undergo surgery is 95%. This means if there are 100 patients who undergo surgery, 95 of them will live after 5 years.
At this particular colon cancer staging, 5 year survival rate is 75% to 80% and the tumor is known as Dukes B.
It involves Stages 2A and 2B to describe the tumor. The difference between 2A and 2B is the extent of penetration.
In Stage 2A, the tumor has spread beyond the middle layers of the tissues in the walls of your bowel to nearby tissues surrounding the colon or the rectum.
In Stage 2B, the tumor has spread to:
Surgery is also the recommended type of treatment.
At the advanced staging, 5 year survival rate is down further to 40% to 50% as lymph nodes now appear. The cancerous cell is now called Dukes C. Stage 3 is described from A to C.
What is the difference among these 3 stages?
Surgery is the main treatment for 3A to 3C but you have to receive chemotherapy after your surgery for 6 to 8 months.
At this advanced staging, the tumor is called Dukes D. Survival rate for colon cancer at stage 4 is very slim at 10% to 20%. Abdominal pains and persistent fever are the signs of an advanced tumor.
The cancerous cells have now metastasized to many of the nearby lymph nodes and to distant organs such as the liver and the lungs.
Colon cancer staging also helps you (the patient) in deciding what treatment to choose. It is also used as basis for prognosis.
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