Colorectal Cancer – Types & Stages

Radiation Therapy Cancer Treatment Orange County, CA

No matter what the specifics of the condition or the situation, a cancer diagnosis can prove to be one of life’s most frightening and difficult challenges – but no matter how the situation may seem, you never have to face it alone. At Orange County CyberKnife, we’re proud to provide world-class cancer treatments from our state-of-the-art cancer treatment center, helping patients throughout the greater Orange County area beat cancer without surgery and get back to a normal life. We treat a wide variety of cancerous conditions, including any stage of colon or rectal cancer.

Colorectal Polyps

Generally, colorectal cancers don’t begin as a cancerous tumor – instead, they form as a precancerous growth called a polyp. Polyps may form anywhere along the inner lining of the colon or the rectum, and while all polyps are serious and many will eventually turn into cancer, not all colorectal polyps will become cancerous. The chances of a given polyp morphing into cancer depend on the type of polyp.

Colorectal polyps are divided into 2 main categories:

  • Adenomatous Polyps (Adenomas): This type of polyp is always classified as a precancerous condition, and these polyps carry a strong likelihood of changing into cancer.
  • Hyperplastic Polyps (Inflammatory Polyps): This is the more common form of colorectal polyp, but these polyps are generally not precancerous and will not morph into cancer.

Another precancerous condition is dysplasia, which is an area either in a polyp or directly on the lining of the colon or rectum where the cells look abnormal under a microscope, but are not yet true cancer cells. Like adenomatous polyps, dysplasia always carries a risk of turning into cancer.

Colorectal Cancer

Even a precancerous polyp may not form into cancer, but any precancerous condition carries the risk of turning into true cancer. If a cancerous tumor forms in a polyp, it may start to grow in size, eventually spreading into the wall of the colon or rectum. Once cancer grows into the colon wall, it paves the way to more serious issues.

The colorectal wall is made of several layers, and both polyps and colorectal cancers start in the innermost layer (the mucosa). From there, they may grow through some or all of the outer layers. Once cancer cells penetrate the colorectal wall, they may grow into blood vessels or into lymph vessels, which are tiny channels in bodily tissue that carry waste and fluid into the lymph nodes to be flushed out of the body. If the tumor reaches these vessels, cancerous cells may spread through the vessels into either lymph nodes and the lymph system or into other, more distant parts of the body. This process of spreading is called metastasis.

Staging Colorectal Cancer

Similar to many other forms of cancer, the severity of colorectal cancer is evaluated using a system of four stages. The staging system is based on three main factors:

  • T: The size of the tumor
  • N: Whether or not the tumor has spread to lymph nodes
  • M: Whether or not the tumor has metastasized to distant parts of the body

In general, the larger the tumor and the more it has spread, the more serious the cancerous condition and the higher the stage. Your doctor will perform a number of tests to determine the stage of your colorectal cancer. The stage of your cancer affects the treatment options available to you.

Schedule a Consultation with Your Radiation Therapy Center

Colorectal cancer is serious at any stage, and even precancerous polyps should be treated as quickly as possible. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with polyps or colorectal cancer, OC CyberKnife is here to help. As a leading radiation therapy clinic serving the Orange County area, we’ve helped countless patients beat colorectal cancer and many other conditions without the need for invasive surgery, helping them return to a healthy, normal life as quickly as possible. Call us today at 714.962.7100 to schedule your consultation. Working together, we’ll help you beat cancer and reclaim your life.