Notice: Users may be experiencing issues with displaying some pages on stanfordhealthcare.org. We are working closely with our technical teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
How carcinoma in situ spreads to become a metastatic tumor.
Doctors need to know the stage of your cancer to know what treatment to recommend. There are three different systems doctors use for staging colorectal cancer. They are Dukes, Astler-Coller, and AJCC, which stands for American Joint Committee on Cancer. The AJCC, which is the most commonly used system for staging, is also called the TNM System. It is the system we describe here. Because staging is so important for deciding what treatment to use, you should ask your doctor to explain the stage of your cancer to you in terms you can understand.
The TNM system consists of several different components. Each one is given a score. Then the scores are grouped to determine an overall stage for your cancer. With the TNM system, there are two different types of stages. The first is the clinical stage. Your oncologist will determine this from a physical exam and from imaging tests such as a CT scan. The clinical stage is used to decide what type of surgery you need. Later, the tissue that is removed during surgery will be examined, and the cancer will be given a new stage called its pathologic stage. This stage will be used to decide what other treatment you might need, if any.
The stage of your cancer is based on the size and extent of your tumor, the number of lymph nodes that are involved, and whether the cancer has spread to distant organs.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.