Four Stages of Colon Cancer

As with many other cancers, colon cancer is divided into four different stages. Dr. George P. Kim explains what the tumor is doing in each of those stages in this video.

George P. Kim, MD: The stages of colon cancer are very similar to all cancers in which there are typically four stages. The earliest stage is what we call I, stage I and these are typically polyps regions that are readily removed by our gastroenterologist during polyp removals. These tumors are at very low risk of recurrence. You think about the colon, it’s basically a tube and the cancer start on the inside of the tube, invade into the wall, and they try to get to be outside of the tube. When a tumor that arises from a polyp starts to invade into the wall, we call that a stage II cancer and typically that would require surgery. Moving on, when the tumor invades into the wall and now gets into what we call the lymph nodes, lymph nodes are throughout the body. Remember that little children when they get ear infections get swollen glands or lymph nodes under the chin or breast cancer patients get lymph nodes under the arm, so very similarly, color cancer patient will get lymph nodes around the colon and around where the tumor is and if the tumor cells get into the lymph nodes that now becomes lymph node positive cancer or stage III colon cancer. The fourth stage is when the cancer leaves the colon and spreads typically to the liver or to distant lymph nodes or to the lung.

George P. Kim, MD is an Assistant Professor of Oncology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and is a consultant in the Department of Hematology and Oncology, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville.

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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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