Rectal cancer stages are used by doctors to figure out the most appropriate treatment options for their patients. Pathology results and imaging tests, such as CT scans, help determine the stage of the cancer based on:
- How much of the cancer is in the lining of the rectum
- Whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
- If the cancer has spread (metastasized) to distant sites of the body, such as the liver, lungs, or bones
In addition to a rectal cancer treatments, Dignity Health Central California offers a variety of support services for patients and their families. Board-certified oncologists work together with oncology nurses, radiation therapists, and other specialized staff to ensure you receive personalized treatment. Find a Doctor who provides quality care during rectal cancer staging in Central California.
Rectal Cancer Stages
Carcinoma in situ, or stage 0, is the earliest form of rectal cancer. Cancer has been found in the lining of the rectum, but not in the lymph nodes or anywhere else. Often, stage 0 rectal cancers are found during colonoscopy and removed immediately. Additional treatment may not be necessary.
In this stage, rectal cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes but has grown farther into the wall of the rectum. The recommended treatment is surgery to remove the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue surrounding it. Many cases of rectal cancer can be cured in this stage.
In stage II, rectal cancer has spread more than stage I. However, it has not invaded nearby lymph nodes. Early in stage II, the cancer has reached the outermost layers of the rectal wall. During late stage II, it has spread to some nearby tissues. A combination of chemotherapy and surgery can be an effective treatment at this stage.
Stage III rectal cancer has invaded nearby lymph nodes or other tissues. Chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and surgery is the recommended treatment.
Stage IV is the most extensive stage of rectal cancer. Cancer has spread beyond the rectum into the liver, lungs, or other distant organs. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may help extend life and reduce symptoms. In some cases, surgery is still an option.
Researchers are actively looking into new treatment options for stage IV rectal cancer. For example, clinical trials of targeted therapies that attack cancer cells but spare healthy ones are showing promising results. These treatments may also be helpful for cancer that returns after previously successful treatment (recurrent cancer).
Staging Rectal Cancer at Dignity Health Central California
Your doctor will stage your rectal cancer when you are diagnosed and throughout your treatment journey. If your treatment options change — or if new options become available — be sure to ask any questions you have to help your doctor understand your goals for treatment.
Dignity Health Central California provides personalized treatment for all rectal cancer stages in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.