Stage 4 Colon Cancer

With stage 4 colon cancer, the disease has spread to other parts of the body and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. Common treatment options for this stage of colon cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. If the disease has spread to the liver, treatment may involve radiofrequency ablation or cryosurgery.

What Is Stage 4 Colon Cancer?

Stage 4 colon cancer refers to cancer that may have spread to nearby lymph nodes and that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs. Another name for stage 4 colon cancer is Dukes' D colon cancer.
 

Treatment Options for Stage 4 Colon Cancer

A few different treatment options are available for stage 4 colon cancer, depending on the location of the disease. These options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Special treatments also are available for cancer that has spread to the liver.
 
Surgery
For some people with stage 4 colon cancer, surgery may be an option. This is more likely the case for those whose cancer has spread only to the liver and/or lungs.
 
Surgical treatment of this stage of colon cancer may include the following:
 
  • Resection/anastomosis of the colon (surgery to remove the cancer or bypass the tumor and join the cut ends of the colon)
  • Surgery to remove parts of other organs, such as the liver, lungs, and ovaries, where the cancer may have spread.
     
Chemotherapy/Radiation Therapy
For people with stage 4 colon cancer for whom surgery is not an option, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be offered as palliative therapy. Palliative therapy is used to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life; however, in these cases, this therapy is not given in hopes of curing the colon cancer.
 
(Click Colon Cancer Chemotherapy or Radiation Treatment for Colon Cancer for more information on these topics.)
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