Colorectal Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

13. If colorectal cancer is found, how do doctors describe how far the cancer has spread?

Doctors use the following stages to describe how the cancer spreads:

  • Stage 0 -- The cancer is very early. It is found only in the innermost lining of the colon or rectum.
  • Stage I -- The cancer involves more of the inner wall of the colon or rectum.
  • Stage II -- The cancer has spread outside the colon or rectum to nearby tissue, but not to the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that are part of the body's immune system.
  • 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. Colorectal cancer tends to spread to the liver and/or lungs.
  • Recurrent -- Recurrent cancer means the cancer has come back after treatment. The disease may recur in the colon or rectum or in another part of the body.