Diagnosis and Treatment of Colorectal Cancer
Regular screening is important in colon cancer, because it can prevent a polyp from becoming cancerous if caught in its early stages. Some of the screening methods look for cancer and polyps inside the colon, while other testing methods just test for the presence of cancer cells. Tests that look for polyps and cancer include sigmoidoscopies, colonoscopies, and double-contrast barium enemas. Once colon cancer has been diagnosed the patient undergoes additional tests to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Colon cancer is separated into the following stages depending on the location and advancement of the cancer cells.
Stages of Colon Cancer
- Stage 0 – abnormal cells are present in the inner lining (mucosa) in the wall of the colon. This stage is also known as carcinoma in situ.
- Stage 1 – cancer has spread to the fibrous tissue beneath the muscle layer (submucosa) and may have spread to the muscles surrounding the colon
- Stage 2 – cancer has spread to the serosa, which is the outermost layer of the colon
- Stage 3 – cancer has spread to all the layers of the mucosa and nearby lymph nodes but has not spread to distant sites.
- Stage 4 – cancer has spread to other organs other than the colon, abdominal wall, or distant lymph nodes
Once the cancer is found and classified into a stage, your oncologist will discuss your treatment options. Depending on the stage, one of more of the following may be used: