Colon Cancer

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Staging Colon Cancer

Dr. Heather Yeo Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian

Staging takes into account the depth of the tumor in the colon, if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or if the cancer has metastasized to other organs, such as the liver or lungs.

A preliminary staging workup is done after diagnosis with imaging studies, such as a CT scan, which can show if the cancer has spread to other organs. For patients who have had surgery to remove their cancer, the final stage is determined based on the final pathology report. After the colon is removed, a pathologist looks at the colon under a microscope. It can take up to one week to receive the final pathology report, which can be a very stressful time for patients.

In stage one and stage two colon cancer, the tumor has not grown outside of the colon. Stage one cancers are those in which the tumor has only penetrated the superficial layers of the colon, whereas stage two cancers involve the deeper layers of the colon wall. Stage three cancers are those in which the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around the colon. Stage four colon cancers are those that have spread to other organs, such as the liver, lungs or peritoneal cavity.

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Dr. Heather Yeo is a medical advisor to SurvivorNet. She is board-certified in general surgery, colon and rectal surgery, and complex general surgical oncology. She is an assistant professor of Surgery and Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medical College and assistant attending surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Read More

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