Neglecting the signs and symptoms of colon cancer or avoiding the treatment can lead to fast advancement of the cancer. It is possible to cure the cancer, if it is detected in its first stage. When the tumor in the colon is very small, isolated, and confined to the primary site, it is easy to remove it surgically. Such condition is known as stage zero colon cancer; which is actually difficult to detect, because a small tumor usually does not exhibit any symptoms or the symptoms exhibited are so mild that they are misinterpreted and neglected. As the cancer starts growing, it moves beyond the innermost layers of the colon and spreads to the nearby lymph nodes and organs. When the cancer invades other parts of the body such as liver or lungs, the condition is recognized as stage 4 colon cancer which is the most advanced stage of the cancer.
Average Life Expectancy for Stage 4 Colon Cancer
The life expectancy for colon cancer varies according to the stage at which the cancer is detected. Usually, the warning signs like pain in the stomach, diarrhea, jaundice, rectal bleeding, weight loss without any reason, anemia, fatigue, constipation, indigestion, nausea and vomiting are neglected or misinterpreted. Mostly, such symptoms are considered as symptoms of common problems related to indigestion, acidity, spicy food, late-night dinners, lack of sleep, etc. and people think they will get rid of these problems very soon.
The tumor grows gradually and blocks the intestine. The cancer spreads through the layers of the intestine, towards the lymph nodes. Through blood and lymph, the cancerous cells travel throughout the body and invade various organs. During the fourth stage, the cancer metastasizes (spreads to other organs), and elimination of the cancer with the help of treatment and surgery becomes almost impossible. Therefore the chances of survival drop to under 10%. As we have still not come up with a cure for cancer, stage 4 cancer survival rate is very low. Very few people have lived more than 5 years with stage 4 colon cancer. Treatment options like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy help a lot to increase the life expectancy of the patients diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Advanced stage colon cancer life expectancy without treatment is very poor. However, there have been examples of colon cancer patients who have lived for more than five years in spite of having advanced stage cancer. Some patients fight the situation with the help of diet. We all know that diet plays an important role in all types of cancers. Although diet cannot cure cancer, it can definitely prevent its advancement and can make the treatment more effective. Avoiding red meat and fat, or following a vegetarian low-fat or no-fat diet (eating lots of fruits, vegetables and grains, that are naturally packed with cancer-fighting substances) can help prevent cancer.
You may take a look at the colon cancer five-year survival rates for various stages of the cancer:
- First stage: Chances of surviving for five years are more than 90%. During this stage, the cancerous cells move from the innermost layer to the central layers of the colon.
- Second stage: Chances of surviving for five years are more than 73%. During this stage, the cancerous cells move to the nearby lymph nodes.
- Third stage: Chances of surviving for five years are more than 45%. During this stage, the cancerous cells move to the nearby organs.
- Fourth stage: Chances of surviving for five years are less than 9%. During this stage, the cancer invades distant parts of the body like liver and lungs.
Statistics regarding stage 4 colon cancer life expectancy should not be used to predict the life expectancy of a particular patient. These figures provide general guidelines only. It should be borne in mind that chances of increasing the life expectancy of a patient with colon cancer at stage 4, are significantly higher if the patient has strong will power, positive attitude and determination. As explained above, higher colon cancer survival rates are observed when the cancer is detected in early stages. Since detection of early signs of the cancer helps increase the life expectancy of the patients, it is necessary to consult a physician if you notice any of the symptoms, mentioned above. Routine medical checkups help detect the cancer at an early stage.