Colon Cancer Stages

How is Colon and Rectal Cancer Staged?

Abnormal cells in the lining of the colon.

Once your diagnosis is confirmed, our physician team will determine the extent and severity of your disease based on where the cancer cells are in your body, if and how far they’ve spread, and how they look under a microscope. This process is called staging, and it helps your doctor identify the best treatment strategy for your particular disease, including any clinical trials that offer options that could benefit you.

  • Stage 0: Cancer is found only in the innermost and most superficial lining of the colon or rectum. Stage 0 disease is also called carcinoma in situ, which refers to a group of abnormal cells confined to one place.
  • Stage 1: Cancer cells have grown into the inner wall of the colon or rectum, but not through the wall.
  • Stage 2: Cancer extends more deeply into or through the wall of the colon or rectum. The tumor may have invaded nearby tissue, but cancer cells have not spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3: Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body.
  • Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.
  • Recurrence: Cancer that was once eliminated but has now returned, either in the colon or another part of the body.