Colon Cancer Stages

Colon cancer stages are based on four specific factors: how large a tumor is, whether cancer is detected in the lymph nodes, whether cancer has spread to nearby tissues and how the cancer cells appear when viewed under a microscope. These factors is evaluated separately, and then the individual assessments are combined into a single score. Stages range from 0 to 4; lower stages indicate less invasive cancers.

The stages of colon cancer are described as follows:

  • Stage 0 colon cancer is limited to the lining of the colon. The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or nearby tissues.
  • Stage 1 colon cancer is limited to the lining of the colon and the connective tissues beneath the colon’s mucous membrane. The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or surrounding tissues.
  • Stage 2 colon cancer has spread through the various layers of the colon and possibly to nearby tissues, but has not reached the lymph nodes or distant organs.
  • Stage 3 colon cancer has grown past the colon and has started to spread to the lymph nodes and surrounding tissues. The cancer has not reached distant organs.
  • Stage 4 colon cancer is present in one or more organs other than the colon. The primary tumor can be any size and lymph nodes may or may not be involved.

The oncologists and pathologists at Moffitt Cancer Center work together to determine which of these stages most accurately represents a patient’s colon cancer. Staging information can then be used to decide which treatments offer the most promise for the patient. Staging is especially important when a patient receives treatment from several different oncologists, as is the case here at Moffitt, as the stages provide a standardized way to communicate information about the extent of the tumor to each member of the patient’s treatment team.

The expert oncologists at Moffitt Cancer Center can provide additional information about the stages of colon cancer, as well as a more detailed explanation of how a cancer’s stage might influence your treatment plan. Referrals are not required to make an appointment; you can call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.