Colorectal Cancer Stage II
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Stage II Colorectal Cancer
Stage II colorectal cancer is divided into three more separate categories: IIA, IIB and IIC. The difference between the categories lies in the extent to which the cancer has spread.
- Stage IIA Colorectal Cancer: The cancer has grown into the outermost layers of the colon or rectum, but has not grown through them. It has not reached nearby organs or lymph nodes, and has not spread to distant organs.
- Stage IIB Colorectal Cancer: The cancer has grown through all of the layers of the colon or rectum, but has not grown into other organs or tissues.
- Stage IIC Colorectal Cancer: The cancer has grown through all of the layers of the colon or rectum, and has grown into nearby organs or tissues. The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs.
The difference between colon cancer and rectal cancer is the location where the tumor originates, be it the colon or rectum. Since the two types of cancer are similar, they are often referred to as simply colorectal cancer.
The five-year survival rate for patients with colorectal cancer in stage II depends on how far the disease has spread at the time of diagnosis, and ranges from 60 - 80 percent, depending on an A, B or C diagnosis.
A stage II colorectal cancer diagnosis will always coincide with N0 and M0 on the TNM scale, as the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. The difference lies in the size and extent of the tumor (T), and will be categorized as T3, T4a or T4b.
Stage IIA (T3, N0, M0): T3 means that the cancer has grown into the outermost layers of the colon or rectum but not through them.
Stage IIB (T4a, N0, M0): T4a means that the cancer has grown through the colon or rectum wall (the outermost layer) but has not spread into other tissue.
Stage IIC (T4b, N0, M0): T4b means the cancer has grown through the wall of the colon or rectum and has expanded into other nearby tissue.
What Is Stage II Colorectal Cancer
Many cases of colorectal cancer will have no symptoms. This is especially true of the earlier stages of the disease. However, the following symptoms below could be an indication of colon or rectal cancer.
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
- Diarrhea, constipation or a change in bowel habits
- Narrow stools
- Unexplained weight loss
Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for people over the age of 50 and for those who have risk factors for developing the disease, such as a family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp (a growth of tissue that develops in the lining of the colon or rectum). Screening tests, such as a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, enable doctors to check for colorectal polyps and abnormalities in the colon and rectum.
With proper screening, colorectal cancer could be detected early, which can lead to more positive treatment results.
NOTE: These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. It is important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Stage II Colorectal Cancer Treatment
Since stage II colorectal cancer is still confined to the colorectal area, surgery can sometimes still be a viable option. However, other treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy might be used to insure that the cancer does not spread further, or return.
Treatment options for patients with colorectal cancer in stage II include the following:
Resection: During this process, the doctor removes the cancer and limited amounts of surrounding healthy tissue. The healthy parts are then sewn together so that the bowel can still function normally.
Laparoscopic Surgery: Also known as minimally invasive surgery or keyhole surgery, in this innovative surgical technique a small incision is created, and then a laparoscope is inserted into the area where the surgery will take place. The laparoscope allows cameras to display enlarged images of the surgical process on TV monitors. The abdomen is usually “blown up” so that the abdomen wall is elevated to allow for a larger viewing space. The smaller incision can be beneficial in terms of less hemorrhaging, shorter recovery time and reduced pain.
Chemotherapy: This treatment is often recommended if your doctor thinks the cancer might return, or if there is a concern about whether or not the cancer has indeed spread to the lymph nodes.
External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT): This type of radiation therapy directs a beam of radiation from outside your body at cancerous tissues within your body. EBRT delivers high-energy rays to tumors, using a special X-ray machine called a linear accelerator. This machine allows radiation to be delivered from any angle and shapes radiation beams to the contour of the tumor.
Clinical Trials: Many clinical trials are open to patients with stage II colorectal cancer. Enrolling in a clinical trial may give you access to new therapies. Your doctor can provide information about ongoing studies that may be available to you.