… Continued …
- Local spread.
- Metastasis (secondary spread or when the cancer has affected other distinct organs of the body).
This spread affects locally. It affects the surrounding tissues, including some tissues in the abdomen or even pelvis.
In this category, the cancer start spreading when the tumor has broken through the wall of the colon, which then the cancer cells go into the surrounding tissues.
If left untreated, the cancer cells that originally grow in the colon can travel through bloodstream or even the lymphatic system! As a result, over time they can go and affect other distinct organs of the body.
As mentioned before, liver and lungs are the most common organs of where colon cancer usually spread to in the body. Because both liver and lungs have many blood vessels and lymphatic system that line to the large intestine and rectum (the last few inches of the large intestine), see the picture on page 1!
Having cancer cells in the liver or lungs that come from cancerous tumor in the colon is called secondary colon cancer. But still, treating the area of where the cancer cells come from is the main concern.
In other words, the location of where the cancerous cells started is still the most important thing. So even though you have cancer of colon that has spread, your doctor will primarily target the cancer cells in the colon and will prioritize using treatments that work on these.
The common treatment options include the use of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or even surgical treatments. Each case can be unique and therefore the treatment plan is usually based on a case-by-case basis.
But in general, the following are common factors that can determine the treatment plan:
- The type of cancerous cells you have. For instance, if the cancer cells look very abnormal (high grade), more aggressive treatments are usually required. Cancer at high grade is more likely to spread, become more aggressive, and grow faster.
- The number of secondary colon cancers you have. Their size can have an effect, too.
- The treatment options you have taken before.
- And the performance status, this include your general fitness and health.