microscope with cancer cells

Stages of colorectal cancer

Staging is the process used to see if cancer has spread from the colon or rectum to other parts of the body. Knowing the stage of a cancer is very important because it determines the plan of treatment.

microscope with cancer cells
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What does staging mean?

Colorectal cancer is diagnosed as either stage 0, stage I, stage II, stage III, or stage IV. The higher the number, the more the cancer has spread. Cancer can spread to other areas in the body through nearby tissue, the blood, and the lymph system.

doctor speaking to patient

How is colorectal cancer staged?

Doctors use several diagnostic tests to determine the stage of colorectal cancer, so your staging may not be complete until all of your tests have been performed.

Some of the tests your doctor may order include:

  • Biopsy with pathology for tumor and lymph nodes
  • Blood work
  • Biomarker testing
  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • PET scan
illustration of cross section of colon cancer in all stages

Understanding the stages

Each stage of colorectal cancer has certain characteristics that indicate how far the cancer has spread.

Learn what each stage means:

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