Stages of Colorectal Cancer

Rectal cancer begins in the innermost lining of the bowel called the mucosa. As the tumor grows, it invades into the rectal wall and extends outward. The second place the cancer spreads is to the lymph nodes and blood vessels that surround the rectum. The last place rectal cancer spreads is to distant organs such as the liver.

Blood tests, chest X-rays, and CT scans of the abodmen and pelvis are commonly performed to help determine the stage. A transrectal ultrasound is one of the most important tests to evaluate the stage of the rectal tumor. This is the best test to determine the depth of growth of the tumor in the layers of the bowel wall, as well as determining if lymph nodes are involved.

  • Stage I. The cancer is contained only in the inner layers of the rectal wall. There is no spread to adjacent lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Stage II. The cancer has grown through all the layers of the bowel wall, but not to lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Stage III. The cancer has spread to adjacent lymph nodes, but not to other organs.
  • Stage IV. The cancer has spread to other organs such as the liver or the lungs.

Stages of Colon Cancer

The first area colon cancer grows is from the innermost layers of the bowel wall to the outer layers. The second place the cancer spreads is to the lymph nodes and blood vessels that surround the colon. The last place colon cancer spreads is to distant organs such as the liver.

Blood tests, chest X-rays, and CT scans of the abdomen are commonly performed to help determine the stage.

  • Stage I. The cancer is contained only in the inner layers of the colon wall. There is no spread to adjacent lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Stage II. The cancer has grown through all the layers of the bowel wall, but not to lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Stage III. The cancer has spread to adjacent lymph nodes, but not to other organs.
  • Stage IV. The cancer has spread to other organs such as the liver or the lungs.