If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with colon cancer, we know there are lots of questions and anxieties that surround this time.
At Immunity Therapy Center, we believe in giving our patients (and potential patients) information that will help with future decisions about colon cancer natural treatment options. Each patient is unique, as is each cancer journey,
Typically, after a patient has received a cancer diagnosis, the doctor will describe the cancer in terms of how much it has grown or spread. This is referred to as the stage of the cancer.
Colon cancer, like all cancers, has its stages. With these stages, comes a variety of different symptoms. If you’re curious about what the stages of colon cancer are, and what can you expect at each stage, read on. We’ve put together a complete guide of stages 1 through 4 to give you some insight into these different groupings.
Arming yourself with knowledge is the first step to being proactive and taking control of your body, soul, and overall health. Once you are able to recognize the early signs of colon cancer, you’ll be able to seek the right treatment for your unique situation.
TNM System for Colon Cancer | Tumor, Lymph Nodes, Metastasis
Before we dive into the stages and substages of colorectal cancer, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the TNM System 1.
With this system, the “T” and a letter or number (from zero to four) describes how far the tumor has grown into the lining of the bowel. This stage can also be divided into even smaller groups that describe the tumor in greater detail (TX, T0, T1, and so on). Each stage serves to describe the tumor at different points of growth — such as the tumor as it grows into layers of tissues in the large intestine or later on, as it attaches to organs or other structures in the body.
In the TNM system, the “N” means lymph nodes. As you may know, the lymph nodes are small organs located throughout the body. They’re part of our immune system and help to fight infection. Regional lymph nodes refer to those found near the colon and rectum, whereas all other lymph nodes are referred to as distant lymph nodes. Like the letter T, the N can be broken up into smaller classifications as well, depending on where colorectal cancer is found and in how many lymph nodes it affects.
The “M” in the system describes whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Distant metastasis of colon cancer often occurs in the lungs or liver. The M can be broken down into a few categories, which refer to how many parts of the body the cancer has spread to. In the final classification, M1c, cancer has spread to the peritoneal surface.
Colon or rectal cancer is also described by its grade, which can help doctors to identify how quickly it will spread. To put it simply, the lower the grade, the more positive the outcome. When cancer cells are looked at under a microscope, they’re given a grade to describe how much they look like healthy cells. The cancerous tissues and healthy tissues are compared to analyze the similarities and differences. When a cancerous tissue looks similar to healthy tissue, it’s called “differentiated” or a “low-grade tumor.” If the cancerous tissue looks a lot different from the healthy tissue under the microscope, it’s called ”poorly differentiated” or a “high-grade tumor.” These grades are broken down by GX, G1, G2, G3, and G4.
What Are the Stages of Colon Cancer?
Now that we’ve gone over the TNM system and the idea of grading, let’s cover what to expect in each stage (and substage) of colon cancer 2.
Colon Cancer | Stage 0
When discussing what the stages of colon cancer are, some patients are surprised to hear about Stage 0. This stage is called cancer in situ and it refers to polyps of cancer cells that are only found in the inner lining (or mucosa) of the colon or rectum. These malignant cells in colon polyps can be removed during a polypectomy, which is part of a colonoscopy.
Colon Cancer | Stage I
Stage I of colon cancer refers to cancer that has grown out of the inner lining and into the layers of muscle on the colon or rectum. However, it hasn’t spread to other tissues or lymph nodes yet.
Colon Cancer | Stage II
Stage II happens when the cancer has spread past the colon wall but not into the lymph nodes. This stage is separated into three different stages.
In this stage, the cancer has spread through the walls but not to the lymph nodes.
Stage IIB means that the cancer has spread through the visceral peritoneum, which are the layers of muscle lining the abdomen. It hasn’t spread anywhere else or to the lymph nodes.
In this stage, the tumor has grown through the wall and has spread to structures nearby. It has not spread anywhere else or to the lymph nodes.
Colon Cancer | Stage III
When colon cancer has spread beyond the lining of the colon and to the lymph nodes, it is classified as stage III. Although the lymph nodes are affected by the cancer at this stage, it hasn’t spread to other organs within the body. This stage, like stage II before it, is separated into three different categories.
Here, the cancer has grown through the muscle layers of the intestine and has spread to 1-3 lymph nodes (or to a nodule of tumor in the tissues surrounding the colon or rectum that don’t seem as though they are lymph nodes) but has not spread elsewhere.
In Stage IIIB, the cancer has either grown through the wall or to surrounding organs and to 1-3 lymph nodes (or to a nodule of tumor in the tissues surrounding the colon or rectum that don’t seem as though they’re lymph nodes) but has not spread to other areas of the body.
In this stage, the cancer has spread to four or more lymph nodes. It hasn’t spread to other distant areas of the body.
Colon Cancer | Stage IV
When colon cancer reached stage IV, it has moved through the blood and lymph nodes and spread to other organs in the body. This stage can be broken down into three different categories as well.
Colon cancer has spread to one single distant part of the body (like the lungs or liver).
Colon cancer has spread to more than one part of the body.
Colon or rectal cancer has spread to the peritoneum (the membrane forming the lining of the abdominal cavity) and may also have spread to other sites or organs.
Colon Cancer Treatment Plans
Based on the stage and areas affected, colon cancer can be treatable for patients. Conventional cancer treatments typically involve surgery to remove the affected areas alongside chemotherapy and radiation.
At Immunity Therapy Center, we focus on natural healing to strengthen your body’s immune system so it can fight against the disease. Our mission is not just to kill the cancer cells, but rather, to restore the health of your body. In doing so, we believe you’re body will be stronger and better able to fight the cancer cells on its own.
With our wide range of alternative cancer treatments, a patient can support their recovery without the negative risk factors and side effects of conventional treatments.
If you’re interested in learning more about who we are and what we do at our holistic cancer treatment center, feel free to visit the Why Choose Us page of our website. Our attentive staff is passionate about offering individualized care to give you a better chance of successfully beating cancer.
You can also reach us by phone. During a free phone consultation, Dr. Bautista will learn more about your cancer to determine if you are a good candidate for our alternative treatment programs. After that, we’ll schedule the start date of your treatment and welcome you to our facilities.
Remember — a cancer diagnosis does not mean an ending. It means you’re given the opportunity to fight and restore your body and spirit. We find that a positive mindset has a huge impact on colon cancer treatment success, so we like to encourage keeping hope in your heart and mind.
From all of us at Immunity Therapy Center, thank you for reading. We’re sending you positive thoughts and wishing you a wonderful healing journey ahead. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Written By: Dr. David Alvarez
Dr. David Alvarez is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Xochicalco and Certified by the American Heart Association (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support).
Dr. Alvarez has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista as an Assistant Medical Director at the Immunity Therapy Center for over 6 years. He provides daily on site patient care and participates on the medical board on research and development of patient treatment plans and programs. Dr. Alvarez is a knowledgeable and compassionate Doctor committed to helping patients get to where they want to be health wise through a more holistic and comprehensive approach.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.