What Are Basics of Advanced or Metastatic Colorectal Cancer?



What is advanced colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a tumor that starts in your colon or rectum. When the cancer spreads to other parts of your body, it is described as advanced colorectal cancer or metastatic colorectal cancer.


What are advanced colorectal cancer symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain or bloating
  • Blood in the stool
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Long, thin, pencil-like stools
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss

Other symptoms you have depend on where the cancer has spread.


What is prognosis of advanced colorectal cancer like?

Your doctor will ask you to do some of these tests:

  • Colonoscopy – With a tiny camera attached to a thin, flexible tube, your doctor will look for cancer inside your rectum and the entire large intestine.
  • Biopsy – During the colonoscopy, the doctor might remove a small piece of tissue which is called a biopsy. Doctors will check it under a microscope to look for signs of cancer.
  • Chest X-ray – A chest X-ray can help your doctor see whether the cancer has spread to your lungs.
  • CT – The CT scan can show whether the cancer has spread to your lungs, liver, or other organs.
  • MRI – This test can show where the cancer has spread inside your abdomen or pelvis.
  • Ultrasound – It can show whether the cancer has spread inside your pelvis or to your liver.


What are treatment options for advanced colorectal cancer?

Surgery is the main treatment, but once the disease spreads, it’s often not an option.

For advanced colorectal cancer, the best treatment may include:

  • Chemotherapy – Some chemo drugs can fight cancer, but they can also harm healthy cells, which means they can cause side effects.
  • Targeted treatments – “Targeted” treatments are drugs that attack specific parts of cancer cells to stop them from growing or thriving. They usually cause fewer side effects than chemo drugs.

To learn more you should go to a medical professional. Talk openly with your doctor about your goals for your care.

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