Metastatic, or stage 4, colon cancer is an advanced malignancy that has spread outside the colon to other areas of the body. While colon cancer can travel throughout the body, there are specific areas where it is more likely to spread. The most common include the liver and lungs, as well as the brain, distant lymph nodes and peritoneum (membrane that lines the abdominal cavity). Colon cancer can produce different symptoms depending on where it spreads, and these symptoms may range from hardly noticeable to very severe.
Symptoms of colon cancer that has spread to specific areas
- Liver – Colon cancer that has spread to the liver can result in fatigue, jaundice, swelling in the extremities, nausea or abdominal bloating.
- Lungs – Another common area where metastatic colon cancer may spread is the lungs. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain or a persistent cough.
- Brain – Colon cancer that has spread to the brain may result in headaches, confusion, memory loss or blurred vision.
- Lymph nodes – The lymph nodes in the abdominal area can be affected by colon cancer, resulting in abdominal bloating and swelling as well as a reduced appetite.
- Peritoneum – If this tissue is affected by cancer, it can result in abdominal pain, bloating, a constant feeling of fullness, weight gain or loss or nausea.
Receiving treatment for metastatic colon cancer
If you experience any unusual symptoms, it is important to consult with a physician. Many conditions can cause similar symptoms; therefore, a medical exam and diagnostic screening is required to determine if metastatic colon cancer is the cause.
Moffitt Cancer Center offers comprehensive diagnostic, treatment and supportive care services for patients with metastatic colon cancer, regardless of where it has spread. If you suspect that you may have metastatic colon cancer or have already received a diagnosis, you can request an appointment at Moffitt with or without a referral. To get started, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online.