Wednesday, February 20, 2013

You Have Colon Cancer, What's Next?

Learning you have cancer is one of the toughest things you'll go through. Your fight or flight responses kick in almost immediately. Some of us will want to give up, others will want to fight it with every medicine, treatment and pray path possible.

Having to tell your families is brutal. Having to explain it to co-works, friends and other loved ones forces you to relive the pain, but sometimes not knowing what is next is all you can focus on. The Huntsman Cancer Institute provides some wonderful online learning resources.

Here is what they have to say about the staging of Colon Cancer.

If the biopsy shows that cancer is present, the doctor needs to know the stage (extent) of the disease to plan the best treatment. The stage is based on whether the tumor has invaded nearby tissues, whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body.
Doctors may order some of the following tests:
  • Blood tests: Doctors check for specific substances in the blood that indicate cancer is present. Some people who have colorectal cancer have a high level of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).
  • Colonoscopy: If colonoscopy was not performed for diagnosis, doctors check for abnormal areas along the entire length of the colon and rectum with a colonoscope. Watch our Introduction to Colonoscopy video.
  • Endorectal ultrasound: An ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum. The probe uses high-energy sound waves bounced off internal tissues or organs in the abdomen to make echoes. The echoes form a picture called a sonogram. The picture can be printed to be looked at later.
  • X-ray: An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
  • CT scan: Doctors often use CT scans to take pictures of tissue inside the body. An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes several pictures. The pictures may show whether cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other areas in the body.
Stages of Colorectal Cancer
Stage 0: Cancer is found only in the innermost lining of the colon or rectum. Stage 0 is also referred to as carcinoma in situ.
Stage I: The tumor has grown into the inner wall of the colon or rectum. The tumor has not grown through the wall.
Stage II: The tumor extends more deeply into or through the wall of the colon or rectum. It may have invaded nearby tissue, but cancer cells have not spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage III: The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body.
Stage IV: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.
Recurrent colon cancer: Cancer that has come back after it has been treated. The cancer may return in the colon or rectum or in another part of the body. 

Read the full article and check out more wonderful resources from The Huntsman Cancer Institute at

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