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Overview of the management of primary colon cancer

Miguel A Rodriguez-Bigas, MD
Axel Grothey, MD
Section Editors
Kenneth K Tanabe, MD
Richard M Goldberg, MD
Deputy Editor
Diane MF Savarese, MD


Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer affecting both males and females in the United States; approximately 70 percent of cases arise in the colon [1]. Globally, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in males and the second in females; however, the incidence varies markedly [2]. Country-specific incidence rates are available through the World Health Organization (WHO) GLOBOCAN database.

This topic review will provide an overview of the management and prognosis of primary colon cancer. Epidemiology, risk factors, clinical presentation, and diagnosis are addressed in detail separately. (See "Colorectal cancer: Epidemiology, risk factors, and protective factors" and "Clinical presentation, diagnosis, and staging of colorectal cancer".)


The diagnosis of colon cancer is usually made by colonoscopy. (See "Clinical presentation, diagnosis, and staging of colorectal cancer".)


"Staging" a cancer provides a standard framework for describing disease extent. The stage of a colon cancer has three components, primary tumor (T), status of the regional nodes (N), and distant metastasis (M), which together are combined to form stage groupings from I to IV. Stage groupings permit the stratification of prognosis, which is useful for the selection of treatment. The T, N, and M categories for colon cancer are assigned based upon:

Whether there are signs of cancer spread on physical examination or radiographic imaging tests

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 17, 2017.
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