A diagnosis of cancer will lead to staging and other tests to help determine the outlook and the appropriate treatments. Treatment for colorectal cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. These treatment methods may be combined.
- Surgery is used for early-stage colorectal cancer. Usually, the tumor is removed along with part of the colon and nearby lymph nodes.
- Chemotherapy may be given after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. It may also be given along with radiation before surgery to reduce tumor size.
- Radiation therapy is not usually used in early-stage colon cancer, but is commonly used to treat early-stage rectal cancer. It is often combined with chemotherapy.
- Clinical trials are available for individual stages of colorectal cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Stages and Treatment Options
There are several methods for staging colorectal cancer. The older system, known as Dukes', categorizes four basic stages: A, B, C, and D. The newer TMN system evaluates the tumor (T), lymph node (N), and how far the cancer has spread or metastasized (M). The results of TMN are combined to determine the stage of the cancer.
Colorectal cancer stages and treatment options are: Stage 0 (Carcinoma in situ).
- In stage 0, cancer cells are fully contained in the innermost lining (mucosa) of the colon or rectum, and have not yet invaded the wall of the colon
- Treatment for stage 0 cancer usually involves surgical removal of the polyp (polypectomy) during colonoscopy.
Review Date: 10/21/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.