Colon cancer develops in stages. Depending on what stage the cancer is at will determine the type of treatment you will receive. Once tested and diagnosed, the doctor will know what stage it is at.

Stages of Colon Cancer

 While it is considered the 4 stages it begins at zero.

Stage 0

 This is the earliest stage of colon cancer. The discovery of polyps, or abnormal cells is found in the inside lining of the rectum or colon. These polyps have not yet spread to other parts of the body and may or may not be cancerous.

Stage 1

In this stage, the cells have attached themselves to the walls of the intestine. They have moved through the  mucosa (the inner lining) and into the submucosa. There may be a chance they have entered the muscle. But there is no evidence the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage 2

 The next stage of colon cancer is more dire and can be divided into 3 other categories.

Stage 2A means it has moved to the outermost layer of the colon or rectum, but has not grown through it. It has not reached nearby organs or lymph nodes, and has not spread to other, more distant organs.

Stage 2B means that the cancer has grown through all the layers of the colon or rectum, but has not yet spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage 2C indicates that the cancer has now grown through all the layers of the intestine but has also grown into nearby organs or tissues. It also means that it has not spread to the lymph nodes or other distant organs.

Stage 3

 Stage 3 colon cancer is also divided into 3 sub categories.

The first stage of stage 3 has the cancer spread into at least 3 lymph nodes and possibly the muscles.

The second category of stage 3 will mean the cancer has grown into or through the outermost layer of the colon or rectum and may have also spread into nearby organs or other tissues. It has not yet spread to distant organs.

When colon cancer is determined at the third stage of stage three, the cancer has now spread into the next closest organs.

Stage 4

Stage 4 colon cancer is also called advanced  colon cancer. It means the cancer has now reached other organs like the lungs or liver.

There are several ways this cancer can metastasize. It may or may affect the lymph nodes, and it doesn’t always grow through the wall of the colon or rectum.

There are different categories for advanced colon cancer. It will depend on how many organs it has reached and whether it is in the lymph nodes or just the original tumor.

 

Treatment for Advanced Colon Cancer

 Treating a patient with advanced colon cancer will depend on several other factors. Age, medical condition, overall health, medications the patient is taking and the potential side effects and risks involved.

 Depending on how many organs are affected by the cancer, there may be surgery to remove tumors, organs and surrounding tissue. The lymph nodes may also be removed, damaged and healthy parts of the colon and rectum.

It may result in the patient also having to have a colonoscopy. This is a small opening done surgically so the colon can be connected to the abdominal surface.

This will provide a pathway for waste to exit the body. This waste is collected in a pouch worn by the patient. It may be temporary, it may be permanent. It will depend on the individual and their own situation.

Aftercare can include chemo or radiation therapy or medications. The recovery will depend on when the cancer was found and the patient’s health and age.

In many cases, the patients may move to palliative care. This will help the patient cope with the effects of colon cancer. This can be at home, in the hospital or a long-term care facility. It is meant to improve the quality of life.

It does not always mean end-of-life care, however advanced colon cancer survival rate is not promising. Once it has reached the other vital organs, it lowers the life expectancy considerably.

 

Get Screened

 If you have a history of cancer in your family, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, are overweight, smoke or have type 2 diabetes, you should consider getting screened before the recommended age.

Talk to your healthcare provider about the variety of tests available and take charge of your health. It is difficult to recover once your colon cancer has reached the advanced stage.

Testing and taking control of your own health is the best way to prevent all types of illnesses and diseases that are otherwise preventable. Cancer is not always preventable, but there is no need to invite it in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you or a loved one is living with colon cancer or in recovery from treatment, you know how difficult it can be. It can also make a drastic difference in the patient’s recovery.

Their involvement can vary, depending on many factors. Mostly, it will depend on the stage of colon cancer, the patient’s age and health and what they need. The caregiver will come in many forms, as well.

 

Support From Family

One of the best ways a caregiver can help their patient is giving them emotional support. Being diagnosed with cancer is a frightening notion and many of us have no idea what to do.

It’s important for all family members to provide emotional support, if available. Often, just someone to listen to them talk about what they are going through can ease a lot of fears.

It can be a lot of work, but family should be involved in helping the patient make decisions, accompany them to doctor appointments and to ask how they are getting on.

The day-to-day little things will go a lot smoother with emotional support. They don’t want to feel alone and it helps to have someone there to hear what the doctors have said, just to make sure it was all understood.

 

Professional Support

 For those patients who need a lot more care than just a ride to the doctor or an ear to chew, you will likely need professional care. Advance stage cancer will require a lot more than most of us are capable of, nor should we be.

Depending on your situation, you will likely require a caregiver to come into the home. They know all about what needs to be done and are highly trained to take care of your loved one.

They can administer medications, change dressings, check surgery sites, give them baths, help with physical therapy and so much more. It is too much of a burden to take on as a family member.

The truth is, many patients will be more comfortable with a professional. While you provide the emotional support they need, the professionals will take care of the rest.

Patients can feel like they are asking too much from you, and often, don’t want you to be the one caring for them. They are feeling vulnerable and dependant and that shouldn’ come down to you.

 

In Care

 If your patient requires more medical care than you can provide, you may need to consider a care facility. Long or short term facilities are designed especially for these situations.

This will depend on how advanced the cancer is, if you are looking at end of life care and if your insurance or budget will allow this type of care. They will receive all the care they need and it takes the burden off of you.

Doctors, nurses, therapists and also people who are also going through the same things can be a great comfort for the patient. They don’t feel like they are depending on you and cause you to miss out on anything.

Being in a care facility with like-minded people who have had the same experiences can be very liberating for people, in particular, for people who are having trouble coping with the cancer, the treatment and the prognoses.

 

Care For Life

 The caregiver, whether it is a family member or a community nurse, plays a vital part in the patient’s recovery and overall disposition. No one wants to be in this situation, but it doesn’t stop it from happening.

Support through all the stages of colon cancer are important. Even getting someone to the doctor to get screened can be difficult for some people. But, they won’t cope if you don’t.

Stay positive but be honest. It is a difficult situation for everyone involved, but the patient most. They will be scared and have a lot of questions. Encourage them to seek the best treatment that is recommended by their medical professional and stay with them through all of it.

 

Cope The Best You Can

It will be a big adjustment for everyone in their life, and a rapid one. As a caregiver in the family, it is fine for you to be angry, stressed, frustrated and scared.

But don’t blame the patient. Avoid the ‘I told you so’ routine, as that will not help anyone. People heal faster if they are not stressed and worried. Even if you have a professional caregiver, you can still play a huge part in their recovery.

Make them healthy meals, let them vent and express themselves. Do nice things that will cheer them up and just be there when they need it.  It is a difficult time for everyone. Just be there in whatever capacity you can to make them as happy and comfortable as possible.