Formerly known as Duke C colon cancer, stage 3 is a stage where the tumor has spread beyond its original site in the mucosa, or the first layer of the colon, into the serosa, the outermost layer. There, the tumor breeds while waiting to travel into a lymph node or blood vessel that will transport it to distant body parts.

Differentiating 3A, 3B and 3C

Stage 3 colon cancer is divided into three groups, from least advanced to most advance. The earliest stage is known as Stage 3A (formerly Duke C1), the middle stage is Stage 3B (Duke C2) and the most advanced stage is Stage 3C (Duke C3).

Colon cancer at Stage 3A has reached the middle layer of the colon, and is present in one to three lymph nodes.

In Stage 3B, the cancer has (1) spread into three lymph nodes, (2) spread beyond the middle layers of the colon, (3) found its way into nearby tissues, (4) reached beyond the colon walls into nearby organs and into the covering tissue of the abdomen, called the peritoneum.

Finally, Stage 3C colon cancer is characterized by the number of lymph nodes affected. When the tumor has spread into four or more lymph nodes, it is classified as Stage 3C.

Treating Stage 3 Colon Cancer

Patients who have been diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer are usually treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. The surgery, known as “surgical resection” involves removal of the part of the colon where the tumor has grown. The healthy sections are then rejoined together.

After the surgery, the patient undergoes a six-month chemotherapy regimen. This is to kill off the microscopic cancer cells which may not have been removed through surgery. The National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference (NIHCC) strongly recommend “adjuvant chemotherapy” or chemotherapy after surgery. In a study conducted by the NIHCC in 1990, it was found that patients with Stage 3 colon cancer improved their 5-year survival prognosis after taking adjuvant chemotherapy.

Doctors also advise regular exercise to Stage 3 colon cancer patients who have undergone surgery and are into chemotherapy. Studies have shown that patients who are active in exercising have 55% higher survival rate than those who rarely or never exercised at all.

The recommended amount of exercise is at least twenty-seven hours per week. The physical activities that Stage 3 colon cancer patients may engaged in include walking, going up and down the stairs, jogging, biking, swimming, and yoga.

Surviving Stage 3 Colon Cancer

In a study by the American Cancer Society, it was found that 83 percent of patients with Stage 3A colon cancer are still alive five years after the cancer was first diagnosed. Those in Stage 3B have 64 percent chances of survival after five years, while those in Stage 3C have 44 percent survival rate.

Surviving colon cancer, according to experts, depend on many factors, the most major of which is the colon cancer stage. Other factors that may affect the patient’s survival rate are the location of the tumor and the country of residence. Tumors found on the right side of the colon, for example, are often diagnosed too late because symptoms take longer to manifest. Meanwhile, survival is also low in countries where screening for colon cancer is not a common medical procedure.

However, with the various treatments and new drugs available nowadays, it is possible that the survival rate for Stage 3 colon cancer is much higher.

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