Colon Cancer Clinical and Pathological Stages

Dr. Kozloff explains that although there are four specific stages of colon cancer, doctors often break the stages up into two stages: clinical and pathological.He discusses what differentiates these two stages and the implications for the patient.

Mark F. Kozloff, MD: There are four stages of colon cancer and we often break it up into what we call a clinical stage and a pathological stage. Clinical stage is before surgery where we take the physical exam, the results of a colonoscopy, results of a CAT scan, and we put a stage on it, one through four. A pathological stage is after surgery where the pathologist looks at the tissue and then he will give also a stage that goes one through four. To give you an idea of what these different stages are, stage 1 is when the tumor or the cancer that grows is confined to the bowel wall and has evaded or invaded to superficial parts of the bowel, meaning it goes into the muscle, but it does not go through the muscle. Stage 2 is when it goes through the muscle of the bowel into the surrounding tissue of the colon, so it invades further deep and more deeply, but the lymph nodes are certainly negative in that situation. Stage 3 is when the cancer or the growth goes through the bowel and it does metastasize or spread through the lymph system to lymph nodes, so the lymph nodes are positive in stage 3. Stage 4 is when it goes through the blood stream to a distant area. The most common place is the liver and then in the most next common place is the lung. Certainly, if one looks at the treatment, it depends upon the different stages and if one looks at the prognosis, it also looks at the different stages, with stage 1 having the best prognosis and stage 4 having the worse prognosis.

Mark F. Kozloff, MD, has more than 30 years of experience treating many types of adult cancers. He works on a multidisciplinary team of experts in the Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology where he specializes in the treatment of colorectal malignancies.

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This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk.  If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.


This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.

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