Stage 4 Bowel Cancer Prognosis, How Long to Live, Life Expectancy, Cancer Types, Australian Staging System and Symptoms

A clear outlook at the stage 4 bowel cancer prognosis, how long to live, life expectancy, cancer types, Australian staging system and symptoms

Stage 4 bowel cancer how long to live

Stage 4 colon cancer is said to be the most advanced stage of the disease and can also be called metastatic colon cancer. Before saying anything else we are required to point out that not all stage 4 colon cancers appears similar. By definition, stage 4 colon cancers are the ones which have traveled beyond the colon but there are many regions to which this happens. For that particular reason, statistics which regard to survival can be very much misleading. Every colon cancer is too different, and each individual’s body, which includes other medical conditions as well as the general health, is different.

bowel cancer prognosis

bowel cancer prognosis

Making Important Decisions about Your Stage 4 Colon Cancer Care

Unfortunately, to many people, stage 4 colon cancer is not usually considered curable. But, it can almost be treated. People can live for months and even years with this stage of colon cancer. How long a person lives after the diagnosis depends largely on several things, which includes how the colon cancer cells appears to be behaving, where the colon cancer has largely spread, and how an individual responds to treatments.

The most common area of the body to which colon cancer spreads is liver but it can also spread to the lungs, the brain, and also the peritoneum, which are the membranes that surround the abdominal cavity, and several other areas.

While making the decisions it’s crucial to note that there has been a very new approach to treatment of the colon cancer in very recent years.

In the past, stage 4 colon cancers were treated in a similar way. Treatments were directed at cancer, no matter where it has spread. This has, however, changed. When a person has only a few or even small areas of the metastases, like the liver, treatment of metastases can also be considered. In medical lingo, a few metastases are known as “oligometastatic” and “oligo” meaning few.

For those who do have metastatic colon cancer with a few metastases to liver or even the lungs, removal of the metastases might sometimes lead to long-term survival. For several people, however, these particular treatments are not in any way possible, and the focus of treatment can control cancer to extend life while also emphasizing the quality of life.

Aggressive bowel cancer prognosis

Treatment for bowel cancer prognosis will depend on which part of your bowel is affected and how far the cancer has spread.

Surgery is the main treatment that is for bowel cancer, and can also be combined using chemotherapy, radiotherapy or even the biological treatments, largely depending on a particular case.

If it’s detected early enough, then treatment might cure bowel cancer prognosis and then stop it from coming back. Unfortunately, a complete cure isn’t possible and there’s sometimes a very big risk which the cancer can recur at a later stage.

A cure is unlikely in advanced cases which can’t be removed completely through surgery. But, symptoms are able to be controlled and also the spread of cancer may be slowed by use of a combination of the treatments.

If you’re diagnosed with bowel cancer prognosis, then you might be cared for by a multidisciplinary team, which includes:

  • a specialist cancer surgeon
  • a radiotherapy and also the chemotherapy specialist
  • a radiologist

When deciding the kind of treatment that is better for you, your team will consider the type as well as the size of the cancer, your general health, whether the cancer has spread to several other parts of the body, and also how aggressive the cancer is.

If the colon cancer is at an early stage, it can then be possible to get rid of just a small piece of lining of the colon wall, called the local excision.

If the cancer spreads into the muscles that are surrounding the colon, it’s necessary to get rid of an entire section of colon, called a colectomy.

There are three ways that a colectomy might be performed:

  • an open colectomy – where the surgeon makes an incision in abdomen and gets rid of a section of colon
  • a laparoscopic colectomy – where the surgeon can make several small incisions in abdomen and use special instruments by using a camera to get rid of a section of colon
  • robotic surgery – a type of keyhole surgery where the surgeon’s instruments can guide the robot, which gets rid of the cancer

During the robotic surgery, there’s no given direct connection that exists between the surgeon and the patient, which implies that it would be very much possible for a surgeon to not be in a similar hospital as the patient. Robotic surgery is not found in many centers in UK or US at the moment.

During surgery, nearby lymph nodes are removed. It’s usual to join the ends of bowel after bowel cancer surgery, but occasionally this isn’t possible and also a stoma is required.

bowel cancer prognosis

bowel cancer prognosis

Both open as well as laparoscopic colectomies are said to be effective at getting rid of the cancer, and have similar risks of the complications.

Aggressive bowel cancer life expectancy

Survival rates indicates what portion of people having similar same type as well as stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time after being diagnosed. They can’t also tell you for how long you will live, but they can assist to give you a better understanding on how likely it is that the treatment will be successful. Some of the people will want to understand the survival rates for the cancer type as well as stage, and some of the people won’t.

What is a 5-year survival rate?

Statistics on the outlook for some type as well as stage of cancer are normally given as 5-year survival rates, but most of the people live longer. The 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who usually are presumed to live at least 5 years after being diagnosed with this type of cancer.

For instance, a 5-year survival rate of 85% implies that an estimated 85 out of 100 people who have that cancer are still alive for a period of 5 years after diagnosis. Keep in mind, that most of these people live much longer than 5 years after the diagnosis.

Relative survival rates are an accurate way of estimating the effect of cancer on survival. These particular rates compare people who have colorectal cancer to the people in overall population.

For instance, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type and also stage of cancer is 83%, it implies that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 83% as likely as people who don’t have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after diagnosis.

But also remember that, the 5-year relative survival rates are just estimates – your outlook might vary largely based on several factors that are specific to you.

Cancer survival rates don’t tell the whole story

Survival rates are normally based on the previous outcomes of many people who had the disease, but they can’t in any way predict what will happen in any person’s case. There are several limitations to remember:

  • The numbers indicated are among the most current available. But to get 5-year survival rates, doctors always have to look at people who were treated for at least 5 years ago. As the treatments are improving over a period of time, people who are being diagnosed with the colorectal cancer might have a better outlook than the statistics indicate
  • These statistics are also based on stage of the cancer when it was initially diagnosed. They do not apply in any way to cancers which can later come back or even spread, for instance.
  • The outlook for people with colorectal cancer varies by the stage (extent) of the cancer – in general, the survival rates are usually better for people who are on earlier stage cancers. But several other factors might affect a person’s outlook, like the age as well as the overall health, and how well the cancer is responding to treatment. The outlook for each given person is specific to circumstances.

Aggressive bowel cancer types

Bowel cancer prognosis might also start in large bowel or even at the back passage. It is also divided into different types largely depending on type of cell that the cancer started in. Knowing this assists the doctor decide which treatment you require.

Adenocarcinoma 

Adenocarcinomas start in gland cells in lining of bowel wall. The gland cells usually produce mucus. This is a slimy substance which normally makes it easier for the poop to pass through the bowel. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of bowel cancer.

There are 2 rare types of adenocarcinoma:

  • mucinous tumors
  • signet ring tumors

They are treated in a similar way as the common types of adenocarcinoma of bowel.

 

Rare types of bowel cancer prognosis

  • Squamous cell tumours 

Squamous cells are the skin cells which usually make up the bowel lining, together with gland cells. They are normally treated in a similar way as cancer of anus.

  • Carcinoid tumours 

Carcinoid is a slow growing tumour known as the neuroendocrine tumour. They usually grow in hormone producing tissue, in the digestive system.

Carcinoid is usually treated differently to the common types of bowel cancer prognosis.

  • Sarcomas 

Sarcomas are usually the cancers of supporting cells of body, like the bone or even the muscle. Most of the sarcomas in bowel are known as leiomyosarcomas. This implies that they are sarcomas which started in smooth muscle.

Sarcomas are treated differently to the adenocarcinomas of bowel.

  • Lymphomas 

This are cancers of lymphatic system. They are usually treated differently to other bowel cancers.

Australian clinic-pathological staging system

Diagnostic tests usually help in determining whether you have the bowel cancer. Some of the tests also indicate if the cancer has spread to any other parts of the body. This is known as staging. It assists the doctors work out the best treatment for you.

There are several staging systems which are used so as to stage bowel cancer prognosis. In Australia the most common staging system used is known as the Australian Clinico-Pathological Staging (ACPS) system.

Stage A cancer is usually found only in bowel wall
Stage B cancer has already spread to the outer surface of bowel wall
Stage C cancer has spread to lymph nodes that are near the bowel
Stage D cancer has largely spread beyond lymph nodes to other areas of the body like the liver or even the lungs

Another staging system that is used more often is known as the TNM system. It indicates how far the tumour has spread into bowel wall, if the lymph nodes are affected and if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. In the TNM system, each letter is normally assigned a number which indicates how advanced the cancer is.

You can also hear about the Dukes system, which is an older staging system that is similar to the ACPS.

Stage 4 bowel cancer symptoms

Most people who experience colon cancer don’t have any symptoms. That’s the reason why it is so important to keep up with the routine screening tests.

When the disease causes symptoms, they can include:

  • Blood (dark red or black) in stool
  • Constipation and also diarrhea. These may also be symptoms of other, less serious conditions, like a stomach virus. But if it doesn’t stop, see your doctor.
  • Long, thin, pencil-like stools. These is an indication that something is blocking the colon. The blockage might be a tumor or even something else.
  • Fatigue and also weakness. Feeling more tired or weak could be an indication that the tumor is bleeding and also that you’ve lost iron.
  • Abdominal pain or even bloating. Colon tumors can lead to a blockage which makes it very hard to fully empty the bowels. You may also feel bloated as well as full as a result.
  • Unexplained weight loss. A weight loss of about 10 pounds or more, when you haven’t changed your diet and also the exercise habits, might be cancer, especially if you also have any other colon cancer symptoms.
  • Nausea and vomiting, which can occur if the tumor leads to an obstruction

Other symptoms that you can experience depend on where the cancer has spread.

In the U.S., about 20% of people who find out they have colon cancer learn that it has spread to several other parts of their body. Cancer might also spread “locally,” through lymph nodes and also the bloodstream. Colon cancer often spreads to liver, lungs, and also peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen). This cancer may also reach the bones and several other organs.

References;

  1. How Do I Know if I Have Stage IV Colon Cancer: https://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/colon-cancer-liver-metastasis-symptoms#1
  2. Types of bowel cancer: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/bowel-cancer/types
  3. Staging bowel cancer: https://www.cancersa.org.au/information/a-z-index/staging-bowel-cancer
  4. Advanced bowel cancer: https://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/about-bowel-cancer/treatment/treating-advanced-bowel-cancer/
  5. Bowel cancer – Treatment: https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-colon-rectum-or-bowel/Pages/treatment.aspx
  6. What Are the Survival Rates for Colorectal Cancer, by Stage: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html

 

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