Not including skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common cancer seen in both men and women in the U.S - with just over 100,000 new cases of colon cancer reported each year .
There are five stages of colon cancer and the specific treatment required largely depends on the particular stage of the cancer, as well as other important factors. It’s important to remember that treatment may not be the same for everyone and it can vary from person to person.
What are the treatments for colon cancer by stage?
Stage 0 colon cancer
Stage 0 is often referred to as ‘cancer in situ’, this essentially means that the cancer is located where it began and hasn’t grown beyond the inner lining of the colon.
Treatment for this stage usually involves surgery to remove the cancer. If the polyp is large, partial removal of the colon may be considered.
Stage I colon cancer
In stage one, the cancer has grown deeper into the layers of the colon lining but hasn’t yet spread outside of the colon area itself and so has not affected other parts of the body.
Treatment for this stage often involves surgery, if the polyp has been completely removed, further treatment may not be necessary. It’s important to remember that the grade of cancer in the polyp will be considered by the doctor in order to decide whether or not further surgery is needed. For example, high-grade colon cancers may grow and spread quickly so a doctor may consider further surgery.
Stage II colon cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, stage two colon cancers are slightly larger than previous stages and have grown through the wall of the colon - but haven’t spread to the lymph nodes.
Treatment for this stage may involve a partial colectomy (including the removal of nearby lymph nodes) - this means the removal of the section of the colon containing cancer. If the cancer is considered high-grade or has grown into nearby blood or lymph vessels, chemotherapy after surgery may be recommended.
Stage III colon cancer
Stage three occurs when the colon cancer spread to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes, but not to any other parts of the body.
Treatment for this stage may involve a partial colectomy (including the removal of nearby lymph nodes) and adjuvant chemotherapy.
Stage IV colon cancer
In stage five colon cancer, the cancer has spread from where it initially began in the colon to other organs and tissues in the body.
Treatment for this stage is unlikely to involve surgery though it may be considered and would involve removing the section of the colon with the cancer and the nearby lymph nodes, as well as the other areas the cancer has affected. If it has spread too far and too much, chemotherapy would possibly be the primary treatment.
What is the most effective treatment for colon cancer?
Unfortunately, it is difficult to say what the ‘most effective’ treatment for colon cancer may be as the type of treatment tends to depend on the following:
- Location of the cancer
- Stage of the cancer
- Grade of the cancer
- Other health concerns
Remember, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you in order to figure out what the best options are for your particular situation.
Can stage one colon cancer be cured?
While there are currently no cures for cancer, successful treatment may result in the cancer going into remission - this essentially means that all signs and symptoms of the cancer disappear, but the cancer may still be in the body.
When the cancer has not spread outside of the colon, it is categorized as localized. According to the American Cancer Society, there is a 90% 5-year relative survival rate for localized colon cancer. This 5-year relative survival rate refers to the number of people with the same stage and type of cancer who are still alive 5 years after diagnosis .
Cancer that is diagnosed early is more likely to be successfully treated. This is why regular cancer screening and health check-ups are so important - both of which can be done with your local healthcare provider or from home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetChecked offers over 30 at-home health tests, including an HPV Test, a Colon Cancer Screening Test, and a PSA test. Our Colon Cancer Screening Test can help detect blood in the stool that may not be visible to the naked eye which may indicate the presence of cancerous or precancerous growths. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated clinical team will be available for support and help along the way.
You should consider taking a test if:
- You are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms
- You have a history of adenomas (benign tumors)
- You have inflammatory bowel disease* (which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)
- You have an inherited syndrome (e.g. Lynch syndrome/HNPCC or FAP)
- You have type 2 diabetes
- You have undergone radiation therapy