A Doctor's View on Stage IV Colon Cancer That Has Spread to the Liver
Read the Comment by Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Colon cancer has four stages. Stage IV is the most severe stage of colon cancer, and at this stage the cancer cells have spread or metastasized to other organs (for example, the lungs and lymph nodes). Examples of symptoms of colon cancer when they do occur include:
- Blood in the stool
- Pain in the right side of the abdomen or stomach
- Leg swelling
- Abdominal swelling
Treatment for stage IV colon cancer to the liver include surgery to remove the liver tumors, chemotherapy, radiation, radiofrequency ablation, and brachytherapy. Targeted therapies also are available.Read the entire Doctor's View
What are the signs and symptoms of colon cancer?
Symptoms of colorectal cancer are numerous and nonspecific. They include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, change in bowel habits, narrow stools, diarrhea or constipation, red or dark blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating. Other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (spastic colon), ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulosis, and peptic ulcer disease can have symptoms that mimic colorectal cancer. For more information on these conditions, please read the following articles: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease, Diverticulosis, and Peptic Ulcer Disease.
Colorectal cancer can be present for several years before symptoms develop. Symptoms vary according to where in the large intestine the tumor is located. The right colon is wider and more flexible. It can even be called relatively spacious as compared to the rest of the colon. Cancers of the right colon can grow to large sizes before they cause any abdominal symptoms. Typically, right-sided cancers cause iron deficiency anemia due to the slow loss of blood over a long period of time. Iron deficiency anemia causes fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. The left colon is narrower than the right colon. Therefore, cancers of the left colon are more likely to cause partial or complete bowel obstruction. Cancers causing partial bowel obstruction can cause symptoms of constipation, narrowed stool, diarrhea, abdominal pains, cramps, and bloating. Bright red blood in the stool may also indicate a growth near the end of the left colon or rectum.