Stage 3 colon cancer

When the cancer in the colon has spread to the lymph nodes but not to any distant sites in the body, it is known as stage 3 colon cancer. Formerly known as Dukes C colon cancer, the tumors in stage 3 colon cancer are divided into three groups.

• Stage 3A: this is the least advanced form of stage 3 colon cancer whereby the cancer has spread to layers in the middle of the colon and also to about three lymph nodes nearby.
• Stage 3B: When the cancer has spread to three lymph nodes located nearby and the middle layers of the colon, the nearby tissues and even through the walls of the colon into the organs like the ovaries and the bladder, it is known as stage 3B.
• Stage 3C: this is the most advanced form of stage 3 colon cancer in which the cancer has spread to more than four lymph nodes.

The lymph nodes play a vital role in our body. They fight off infections in the body and they also filter the fluids between the cells and the tissues and channel it into the blood vessels. In the case of stage 3 colon cancer, the cancerous cells leak out of the colon and are absorbed by the lymph nodes. This stage of cancer is difficult to cure and it normally needs a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.

Colon cancer can be caused by several factors such as genetic, heredity, a high fat and low fiber diet, obesity and even an unhealthy lifestyle with a lack of exercise.

Stage 3 colon cancer treatment

The most common treatment for stage 3 colon cancer is surgery. The doctor has to surgically remove the affected part of the colon along with some of the surrounding lymph nodes, which are then viewed under the microscope to check for cancer cells. A surgical resection follows where the healthy sections of the colon are joined together to restore good bowel functions. Some surgeons suture the layers of the colon manually while others prefer to use stapling techniques.

Before the surgery some investigative procedures are followed such as a CT scan to check the spread of the cancer in the colon and outside the colon. In the course of the surgery the doctors will also explore the abdominal cavity and the liver to see if the cancer has spread to these areas.
Following surgery the patient has to undergo chemotherapy which actually means chemical treatment. The uncontrollable cell division that occurs during cancer is halted by chemotherapy, which kills the cancer cells. The chemotherapy regimen is normally held over a period of six months. There are various modern chemotherapy regimens available which are quite effective.

Stage 3 colon cancer survival rate

The survival rate for those suffering from stage 3 colon cancer depends on several factors, the major being the location of the tumor. Sometimes the symptoms of colon cancer emerge much later if the tumor is on the right side of the colon. In some countries the screening techniques are not so advanced and the cancer may go undetected till it is quite late. According to statistics, those detected with stage 3A colon cancer have a longer life expectancy. In the case of stage 3B the survival rate is approximately 64% and in stage 3C it is only 44%, depending on how far the cancer has spread.

Stage 3 colon cancer symptoms can be treated with surgery and chemotherapy.