Colorectal Cancer Staging

Colorectal Cancer Staging

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP

Colorectal cancer staging

The stage of the cancer describes how advanced the cancer is, from stage 0 (where it has not grown outside one of the layers of the colon wall) to stage IV (cancer has spread to other areas of the body). The cancer stage can help your oncologist develop the best treatment plan for you. 


Treatment for colorectal cancer 

Treatment is often classified into local therapy or systemic therapy. Local therapy means that it only treats the colon or rectum, and not any other parts of the body. Systemic therapy is treatment that goes around your entire body, treating cancer cells that may be present outside of the colon. A combination of local and systemic therapy may be given for CRC.. 


This article will focus on the local therapy options for Colorectal cancer- surgery and radiation. 


When CRC is at an early stage, surgery is often the choice for treatment. During surgery for CRC, a partial colectomy may be done. This surgery removes the affected part of the colon as well as some of the healthy colon around it. The other parts of the colon are then attached together. If the entire colon is removed, it is called a total colectomy.

When a colectomy is done, lymph nodes in the abdomen near the affected area of the colon are also removed to be tested for the presence of cancer cells. 

Depending upon the type of surgery that’s done, a temporary or permanent colostomy may be needed. This is a procedure that moves part of the colon out to the surface of the abdomen. As the contents of the intestines move through, instead of having a regular bowel movement, it leaves the body through the new abdominal opening, into a bag attached to the outside of the body. 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high energy beams of x-rays to kill cancer cells. This is a treatment most often used for rectal cancer, and not as often for colon cancer. Sometimes it’s done before surgery, to help shrink the tumor so the surgeon has an easier time removing it. Radiation may also be done after surgery if the surgeon finds that the cancer was really difficult to remove and they aren’t confident that it was all removed. 

When given for rectal cancer, it is often given in combination with chemotherapy. Radiation treatments are typically done Monday through Friday for about 6 weeks.


Are you interested in learning more about colorectal cancer treatments? Check out our next article on this topic.

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Julie is an oncology certified Oncology Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of medical oncology experience. In addition to her clinical work, she is an accomplished healthcare writer providing oncology content for various publications. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for a Master's nursing program and a chair for Doctoral nursing students.

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