Colon cancer sometimes referred to as colorectal cancer, is an overgrowth of cells in the large intestine (colon). Some common colon cancer symptoms include bloody stools, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, and thinner than usual stool.
As cancer progresses it goes through stages. The stages are one through four, however, if you catch it early, you do not have to go into the later stages. The lower the number the early and less progressed the cancer is. The higher numbers mean that it has spread to different areas of the body. You can use this as an educational guide through the stages of colon cancer, but you should consult your doctor or health care provider if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Stage 1 colon cancer is the earliest stage of this cancer. If you are able to detect colon cancer in stage 1 you have a 90% chance that you will be cured. Stage 1 means that cancer has gone into the mucosa of the colon or rectum, but it has not yet reached the walls or spread to any other regions of the body. Some if the common symptoms you can expect in stage 1 are early warning signs such as diarrhea and constipation, blood in your stool or rectal bleeding, narrow stool, abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss. You may also feel like you need to void feces, but you do not.
Stage 2 indicates that cancer has now penetrated the walls of the colon or rectum but has not spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. Stage 2 is split up into stage 2A, 2B, and 2C. Stage 2A is that cancer has grown to the outside of the colon but is not all of the way through. Stage 2B is that cancer has grown all the way to the outside of the colon and the membrane surrounding the colon. Stage 2C is where the cancer is all the way through the colon and has begun to spread to the surrounding tissues and organs. The symptoms for stage 2 are similar to stage 1.
Stage 3 is even more progressive than stages 1 and 2. Again, stage 3 is divided into 3A, 3B, and 3C. This helps to accurately identify exactly where cancer has spread. Stage 3A is when cancer has grown through the colon and into nearby lymph nodes. Stage 3B is that cancer has also affected one to 4 lymph nodes and has grown through the colon. Stage 3C is when the cancer is found in at least 4 or more lymph nodes that are local to the region, they have not traveled to other areas of the body. To treat stage 3, both the affected lymph nodes and affected colon area are removed, followed with chemotherapy and sometimes radiation.
Stage 4 is the most serious form of cancer and is shown when the cancer travels to other areas of the body. It is only separated into stage 4A and 4B. 4A is when the cancer has only spread to one other bodily organ. Stage 4B is when the cancer has spread to more than one site that is not local to the original site. Stage 4 treatment is more aggressive and includes surgical removal, chemotherapy, and usually radiation therapy.
Colon cancer is something that no one should have to go through. However, if you or someone you know is diagnosed you will be informed on the signs and symptoms to look out for, as well as what the various stages of colon cancer are.