Colon cancer staging is important because it helps determine the best treatment plan for the patient. Doctors recommend certain screening tests in healthy people with no symptoms to look for early signs of colon cancer. When caught at the earliest stage of colon cancer, the chances of successful treatment are the highest.
The procedure used to find out whether cancer has spread within the colon, rectum, or to other parts of the body is called colon cancer staging. Most cases of colon cancer begin as clusters of small, non-cancerous (benign) cells called adenomatous polyps.
Colon Cancer Staging and Treatment
Before planning colon and rectum cancer treatment, it is necessary to obtain information about the general condition of the patient and the prevalence of the disease. In this sense, it is important to know the stage of the disease.
- Stage I: It is the earliest disease stage. Cancer cells hold the inner and middle layers of the intestine. There is no involvement in lymph nodes and distant organs.
- Stage II: Cancer cells hold all layers of the intestine, reach the outermost layer, and can spread to neighboring organs. There is no involvement in lymph nodes and distant organs.
- Stage III: Regardless of the level of involvement in the intestinal wall, tumor has spread in the lymph nodes adjacent to the intestine.
- Stage IV: It is the most advanced stage of the disease. Regardless of how the tumor has spread in the intestinal wall or lymph nodes, there is metastasis in organs such as liver, lung, peritoneum, bone, or brain.
In thestaging process, in addition to radiological imaging methods such as tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), chest radiography, and PET, the data obtained by pathological examination of the tissue sample taken from the body are evaluated and the stage of the disease is determined.
Chemotherapy is not applied to patients with stage 1 colon cancer. Chemotherapy is given to only some of the stage 2 patients, after the surgical operation is performed.
In stage 3 colon cancer cases, adjuvant chemotherapy is administered after the surgical procedure. In advanced stage colon cancer (Stage IV), taking into account the general condition of the patient, surgical procedures are performed to relieve the symptoms of the patient.
How Is Colon Cancer Diagnosed?
Cancer and other tumoral formations in the colon and intestine can be better diagnosed using endoscopic methods. It is possible to detect tumor formation at an early stage by performing a colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy, polyps with the risk of turning into cancer are removed and the danger of cancer is prevented.
For a definitive diagnosis, stool is taken from the patient and examined, colon radiography and computed tomography are applied. With an endoscopy, a piece is taken and pathologically examined.
If the person has a family history of colon cancer before the age of 50, it is essential to have a colonoscopy beginning at the age of 40. It is very important to repeat the colonoscopy at least once every 5 years. In addition, examining occult blood in the stool once a year is also very important for the determination and early diagnosis of cancer. If there is no colon cancer in an individual’s family, it is appropriate to have a colonoscopy regularly every 5 years from the age of 50.