Stage II

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What is stage II colorectal cancer?

In stage II colorectal cancer, the cancer has spread into the outer layers of the colon or rectum but has not spread to any lymph nodes.

Colon cancer

Stage II colon cancer is divided into three categories. 

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Stage II colon cancer treatment

Often the only treatment that is needed is a partial colectomy, a surgery that removes the section of colon where the cancer is located. Your surgeon will also remove nearby lymph nodes during this procedure.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend adjuvant chemotherapy (chemo given after surgery) for stage II colon cancer. Adjuvant chemo can help destroy any remaining cancer cells.

Rectal cancer

Stage II rectal cancer is divided into three categories.

Treatment for stage II rectal cancer

Stage II rectal cancer is usually treated with a combination of:




Every person's situation is different, so the order of these three treatments may vary.

Chemo & radiation

In most cases chemotherapy (usually 5-FU or capecitabine) and radiation are the first phase of treatment. This allows the tumor to shrink in size before surgical treatment.


Surgery is usually the second phase. Depending on where the the cancer is located in the rectum, surgeries that may be performed are:

  • Transanal resection
  • Low anterior resection (LAR)
  • Proctectomy
  • Abdominoperineal resection (APR)

Additional chemo

The final phase of treatment is additional chemo after surgery.

Chemo drugs may be:

  • FOLFOX regimen (oxaliplatin, 5-FU, and leucovorin)
  • 5-FU and leucovorin
  • CAPEOX (capecitabine plus oxaliplatin)
  • Capecitabine alone
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Adjuvant therapy

Why have adjuvant therapy (chemo given after surgery)?

Adjuvant chemotherapy may be recommended for stage II colon cancer that has:

  • Invaded nearby organs, tissue, or lymph vessels
  • Spread through the entire bowel wall, causing a perforation (hole)
  • Blocked (obstructed) the colon

Your doctor may also recommend adjuvant chemotherapy if:

  • Cancer was found in the margins (edge) of the removed tissue
  • Fewer than 12 lymph nodes were removed for biopsy
  • The cancer has certain characteristics of that put it at a high risk of recurrence

What types of therapy are used?

If you and your doctor decide that adjuvant therapy is a good option for you, 5-FU, leucovorin, oxaliplatin, or capecitabine may be used in combination or alone.


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