What does stage 4 colon cancer mean?
Colon cancer is stage 4 when it has spread to other parts of the body such as the liver, lungs, bones, or distant lymph nodes. Although the metastasis may also have occurred in a single organ, in which case a local treatment targeting that single metastasis may be used.
How is stage 4 colon cancer treated?
It is often thought that patients diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer have few treatment options, yet some patients can still be cured of their cancer. Treatments for stage 4 colon cancer usually include:
- Surgery. Patients in whom cancer has spread to only one area are candidates for surgery to remove metastases. Surgery is also often used if initial chemotherapy treatment shrinks tumors sufficiently.
- Targeted therapy. Targeted therapies are anticancer drugs that interfere with specific pathways involved in the growth and survival of cancer cells.
The individual circumstances of each patient influence what and how these treatments are applied. Treatment for stage 4 colon cancer is usually a combination of these treatment techniques, thereby increasing the patient's chance of cure or prolonging survival. In some cases, participating in a clinical trial using new and innovative therapies can provide a more promising treatment and offer patients access to better treatments. However, patients interested in participating in a clinical trial should first assess the risks and benefits.