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What are the characteristics of stage 3 colon cancer?

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The stage 3 designation means colon cancer has spread beyond the colon to the lymph nodes. Within this designation, stage 3A refers to the presence of tumors within the colon wall that involve the lymph nodes and stage 3B refers to tumors that have grown through the colon wall and spread to between one and four lymph nodes. Stage 3C refers to tumors that have spread through the colon wall to over four lymph nodes, according to WebMD.

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Treatment for stage 3 colon cancer generally involves surgery to remove the initial tumor and, if possible, all the lymph nodes it has spread to. Doctors then administer post-surgery chemotherapy and potentially radiation therapy if the tumor had spread into the tissue around the colon. Stage 3 colon cancer's survival rate is roughly 64 percent, with prognoses for stage 3B being better than those for stage 3C, explains WebMD.

Colon cancer often begins as a polyp, a term for a growth on the inner surface of the colon. Hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps are at a low risk of developing into cancer. However, adenomatous polyps require immediate treatment, and doctors consider them to be precancerous. Risk factors for the development of colorectal cancer include Crohn's disease, obesity, excessive alcohol use, physical inactivity, and a family history of polyps or colorectal cancer, according to WebMD.

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