Colon Cancer Diagnosis and Stages

If you are experiencing symptoms of colon cancer, our team will ask about your health history, your family’s history of cancer and risk factors. We may perform diagnostic tests to help determine if you have colon cancer. A diagnosis is often determined through a combination of imaging tests and tissue sampling (biopsy). Diagnostic tests may include the following, though most patients will not require all tests:

Learn more about diagnostic tests and our center’s overall diagnosis process.

Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center

If you are under the age of 50, receiving a colon cancer diagnosis may be all the more challenging to hear because it is far less common. That’s why we have our very own Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center, dedicated exclusively to supporting all the needs of our younger colorectal cancer patients. You have our full support and expertise throughout your colon cancer journey from your initial diagnosis to your treatment and care. Learn more about the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center within Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

Stages of Colon Cancer

After receiving a diagnosis of colon cancer, our team will try to determine your stage of cancer. The stage of cancer describes how much and far the cancer has spread in your body. It is one of the most important things to know when deciding how to best treat your cancer, including whether your cancer can be removed (resected) with surgery. You may need additional diagnostic tests to help our Pathology team formally assign a stage to your cancer, which is dependent upon the size and spread of the cancer.

The AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer) TNM staging system (Stages 0–IV) is commonly used for colon cancer. This staging is especially helpful upon immediate diagnosis since we might not know if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes at that time. A higher number, such as stage IV, means a more advanced cancer. Learn more about the stages of colon cancer.

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