Colon cancer staging tests estimate how far a particular cancer has penetrated into the colon, whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs and how to proceed with treatment. Most colon cancer staging tests are done after surgery has been performed and pathology reports have been reviewed. Before undergoing additional surgery or other treatments, a patient will likely have an abdominal CT scan and a lung X-ray to determine whether cancer has spread to these other areas.
The most common staging system is called the TNM System (tumors/nodes/metastases). The “T” is for the degree of invasion of the intestinal wall, “N” for degree of lymphatic node involvement and “M” for the degree of metastasis.