Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Cancer Rectum Evaluation

The evaluation of colorectal cancer begins with a medical history and physical examination.

The physical examination may be normal in someone with colorectal cancer.

Physical findings in someone with colorectal cancer may include:

  • A mass or nodule may be felt on rectal examination.
  • The stool may contain blood
  • Muscle wasting and malnutrition

The diagnosis of colorectal cancer must be confirmed through testing.

Tests that may be used to evaluate colorectal cancer include:

Imaging studies that may be used to evaluate colorectal cancer include:

Cancer Rectum Staging

Colon Cancer Staging
Doctors use a system called staging to describe how much a cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or other parts of the body. The cancer stage is important when deciding on the most effective course of therapy.

Staging colon cancer usually includes some combination of the following tests:

Cancer Rectum Stage 0

Colon Cancer Stage 0
Stage 0 cancer is also called carcinoma in situ. In stage 0, the cancer is found only in the innermost lining of the colon.

Cancer Rectum Stage 1

Colon Cancer Stage 1
Stage 1 colon cancer is sometimes called Dukes' A colon cancer. In stage 1, the cancer has spread beyond the innermost tissue layer of the colon wall to the middle layers.

Cancer Rectum Stage 2

Colon Cancer Stage 2
Stage 2 colon cancer is also called Dukes' B colon cancer.

Stage 2 colon cancer is divided into stages:

  • Stage 2A: Cancer has spread beyond the middle tissue layers of the colon wall or has spread to nearby tissues around the colon or rectum.
  • Stage 2B: Cancer has spread beyond the colon wall into nearby organs and/or through the peritoneum.

Cancer Rectum Stage 3

Colon Cancer Stage 3
Stage 3 colon cancer is also called Dukes' C colon cancer.

Stage 3 colon cancer is divided into:

  • Stage 3A: Cancer has spread from the innermost tissue layer of the colon wall to the middle layers and has spread to as many as 3 lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3B: Cancer has spread to as many as 3 nearby lymph nodes and has spread:
    • beyond the middle tissue layers of the colon wall; or
    • to nearby tissues around the colon or rectum; or
    • beyond the colon wall into nearby organs and/or through the peritoneum.
  • Stage 3C: Cancer has spread to 4 or more nearby lymph nodes and has spread:
    • to or beyond the middle tissue layers of the colon wall; or
    • to nearby tissues around the colon or rectum; or
    • to nearby organs and/or through the peritoneum.

Cancer Rectum Stage 4

Colon Cancer Stage 4
Stage 4 colon cancer is also called Dukes' D colon cancer. In stage 4, cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes and has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.

Continue to Cancer Rectum Treatment

Last Updated: Dec 8, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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