Colon cancer is one of the most treatable cancers when found in the early stages. However, just like any other disease, it is more difficult to cure as the illness progresses. Let’s examine each stage of colon cancer and its corresponding survival rates, according to the American Cancer Society:
The cancer is isolated to the innermost lining of the colon. The tumor and surrounding tissue can be removed, and the patient is considered cured.
The colon tumors have spread beyond the inner lining of the colon to the second and third layers or even the inside walls of the colon. Surgery to remove the cancer and surrounding tissues offers a five-year survival rate of 93 percent.
Colon cancer has spread through the muscular wall of the colon, but is not present in the lymph nodes. Treatments can include surgery, as well as chemotherapy for a small percentage of patients. The five-year survival rate for stage II colon cancer is 78 percent.
The cancer has spread past the colon to one or more lymph nodes. Stage III colon cancer is divided into three subcategories:
- IIIA— Tumors are within the colon wall but lymph nodes are affected
- IIIB— Tumors have grown through the colon wall and have spread to one to four lymph nodes
- IIIC— Tumors have spread to more than four lymph nodes
Treatments may include surgery to remove the tumor and lymph nodes, chemotherapy and radiation. The five-year survival rate for stage III is about 64 percent, but patients who have fewer lymph nodes affected have a better prognosis.
Colon cancer has spread outside the colon to other organs such as the liver and lungs. The tumor can vary in size and may or may not affect the lymph nodes. Treatment may include:
- Surgery to remove the diseased colon and reattach the healthy colon
- Removal of parts of the liver, lungs, ovaries or other affected organs
- Drugs used in conjunction with chemotherapy
The five-year survival rate for stage IV colon cancer is about 8 percent (Source: Web MD).
Importance of Early Diagnosis
Colon cancer has a highly favorable prognosis when the cancer is discovered early. The best way to stay colon cancer-free is to schedule regular colonoscopies. A colonoscopy is the most effective test to diagnose colon cancer or remove suspicious polyps. Colon cancer is the only cancer that has a screening that provides both prevention and treatment in the same examination. Find out more about when you should have your baseline colonoscopy by contacting a treatment center near you.