The minute your doctor pronounces his diagnosis that you have colon cancer, it’s only natural that you start feeling apprehensive about your prospects for survival. You end up asking your doctor numerous questions about your prognosis. Your doctor answers them based on statistical data on prognosis and survival rates available in the field, which are derived from large populations of people. However, you should understand that statistical data cannot accurately predict an individual’s survival rate.
Colon cancer can be effectively treated if diagnosed in the early stages but the disease is difficult to treat when diagnosed at the later stages. Below is a description about survival rate for colon cancer in different stages (the survival rate for cancer patients is given in terms of 5 year survival rate which is the percentage of people who live at least five years after being diagnosed with cancer):
Stage 0: The cancer is present in the innermost layer of the colon. When diagnosed at this stage, the cancer and the surrounding tissues can be removed by surgery and the patient is completely cured.
Stage I: At this stage the cancer has spread to the 2nd and 3rd layers of the colon and has even reached the inside walls of the colon. The patient has a 93% five year survival rate when diagnosed with stage I colon cancer.
Stage II: Colon cancer has spread to the muscular walls of the colon and has not yet reached the lymph nodes. The five year colon cancer survival rate for patients diagnosed with stage II colon cancer is 78%.
Stage III: At this stage, the cancer has spread from the colon to the lymph nodes. Stage III colon cancer is further divided into:
Patients who have less number of lymph nodes affected have a better chance for survival. Patients diagnosed with stage III colon cancer have a 5 year survival rate of 64%.
Stage IV: In stage IV colon cancer the cancer has spread to the organs like liver and lungs. The lymph nodes may or may not be affected. The 5 year survival rate of patients diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer is 8%.
There are several factors that affect the colon cancer survival rate:
Understanding Survival Rate
You should understand that statistics cannot predict your individual treatment outcome. A generalized prediction of how the disease progresses can be made using statistical data but it has its limitations. Colon cancer affects each one differently and your experience with colon cancer can be entirely different from another person’s experience.
Moreover, the treatment options for colon cancer are evolving constantly and new clinical trials are being done to develop more effective medications. The effect of these new treatment options on life expectancy may take years to understand completely. The statistical data available to your doctor may not include the impact of the latest therapeutic developments which may increase the colon cancer survival rate.
Stage 0 Colon Cancer
The treatment for this cancer includes two surgical methodologies called polypectomy and anastomosis. In polypectomy the surgeon removes the tumor in the colon and a little of the surrounding areas of the colon. Anastomosis is done if the tumor size is large. The surgeon removes the cancer affected parts of the colon entirely and reconnects the healthy parts to enable the bowels to function normally.
Stage I Colon Cancer
Similar to stage 0, stage I colon cancer is treated by surgery where the tumor and its surrounding tissues are removed. At this stage, additional treatment is generally not required.
Stage II Colon Cancer
In case of stage II colon cancer, surgery is done to remove the tumor and its adjacent tissues. The doctor may also recommend chemotherapy to prevent the cancer from relapsing. Chemotherapy is usually recommended for people who have a high chance of relapse.
Stage III Colon Cancer
In Stage III colon cancer where lymph nodes are also affected, treatment involves:
Stage IV Colon Cancer
For stage IV colon cancer where the cancer has spread or metastasized to other organs in the body like the liver and lungs, the following treatments are needed: