Colorectal Cancer Stage IV
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Stage IV Colorectal Cancer
Stave IV is the most advanced stage of colorectal cancer. If you have been diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer, it means that the cancer has metastasized to distant sites, such as the liver or lungs. The cancer may or may not have grown through the wall of the colon or rectum, and lymph nodes may or may not have been affected.
Stage IV colorectal cancer is further divided into two categories, depending on whether or not the metastasis has affected more than one organ. The original tumor can be of any size and lymph nodes may or may not be involved, but if the cancer has spread to one different organ it is considered stage IVA, while more than one organ would be defined as stage IVB.
The five-year survival rate is at about 5 -10 percent for those diagnosed with colorectal cancer in stage IV. There are numerous treatment options available for patients with advanced-stage disease at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). We also provide therapies to ease the symptoms that can be associated with colorectal cancer, while improving your quality of life.
Stage IV colorectal cancer can be defined by any T or N category, with the only difference stemming from whether the M1 or M2 assignment is more appropriate.
In both forms of stage IV colorectal cancer, the tumor can be of any size (T), and lymph nodes may or may not be involved (N). M1a indicates that the cancer has spread to just one organ, while M1b would mean that more than one organ has been affected.
What Is Stage IV Colorectal Cancer?
This stage of colorectal cancer means that the cancer has spread to other organs; therefore, you might observe symptoms outside of just the abdominal area. The most common location for colorectal cancer to spread is to the liver and lungs, though other organs can also develop metastasized colorectal cancer. Some symptoms that could appear if the cancer has spread to other organs are as follows:
- If the bones are affected, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.
- If the lungs are affected, symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest wall pain or extreme fatigue.
- If the liver is affected, symptoms may include nausea, extreme fatigue, increased abdominal girth, swelling of the feet and hands due to fluid collection and yellowing or itchy skin.
- If the lymph nodes of the belly are affected, it may cause bloating, a swollen belly or loss of appetite.
- If the brain or spinal cord is affected, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, difficulty with movement or seizures.
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 IV Colorectal Cancer Treatment
Since stage IV colorectal cancer indicates that the cancer has already spread to other organs in the body, surgery usually is not successful in treating the cancer alone. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we specialize in treating advanced and complex cancers, such as stage IV colorectal cancer.
Some treatment options for patients with colorectal cancer in stage IV include:
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. Resection can also be used to remove a tumor from the liver, if that is where the cancer has spread.
Partial Hepatectomy: Colorectal cancer commonly metastasizes to the liver. For some colorectal cancer patients who have metastatic disease in the liver, surgery to remove a portion of the liver containing the cancer may be a viable treatment option. This is known as a partial hepactomy.
Radiofrequency Ablation: The power of microwave technology can be used to help destroy colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver, the most common site to which the disease can spread. Radiofrequency ablation helps the surgeons and radiologists at CTCA eliminate small liver tumors, often without the risks and discomfort associated with traditional surgery.
Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT): This is a state-of-the-art radiation therapy program that allows colorectal cancer patients to receive a single, powerful dose of radiation directly to a tumor site during surgery.
Radiation Therapy: This type of stage IV colorectal cancer treatment can be used to help relieve symptoms. Radiation and chemotherapy are often both used in this stage of advanced colorectal cancer.
Chemotherapy: Sometimes, chemotherapy is used before attempting surgery in order to shrink the size of the tumors. Chemo can then be given again after surgery to lessen the chance of reoccurrence, or further metastasis. These are just some of the options available for patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer in stage IV.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Difference
Regardless of the stage of colorectal cancer, we have numerous treatment options available to you at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. We specialize in treating complex and advanced stage cancers, and have state-of-the-art, advanced technologies that our cancer experts use to treat every stage of colorectal cancer.
All of our doctors and other clinicians who form your dedicated CTCA care team will work with you to develop and implement an individualized treatment plan tailored to your specific diagnosis, personal needs and preferences. Your care team will provide encouragement, support and compassion throughout your stage IV colorectal cancer treatment.