Treatment of Colorectal Cancer

Treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the stage at which cancer was discovered.  Early stage colorectal cancer is best treated with surgery.  Approximately 95% of Stage I and 65-80% of Stage II colorectal cancers are curable with surgery.  Rectal cancer however,  may require additional radiation therapy to minimize the risk of recurrence.  Advanced stage (Stage III and Stage IV) often consists of a combination of therapies, including: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. 

Although staging of your cancer is an important indication of the type of treatment you may receive, it is not the sole factor in defining your specific treatment.  All treatment decisions at Johns Hopkins are determined on an individual basis based on discussions with surgical medical and radiation oncologists, because no two cancers and no two people are identical. Several other factors are considered in your individual assesment, including your age, general health, family history of cancer, other medical conditions, and whether it is a new cancer or one that has recurred.  Since each patients situation is unique, you should ask your doctor for a detailed explanation of the implications of the stage of your cancer. 

At Johns Hopkins we provide each patient with a comprehensive approach guided by the top specialists in colorectal cancer care.  This ensures that patients receive treatment specifically targeted to their disease. 

Explore the various therapeutic options for colorectal cancer by choosing a disease stage below.  If you are unsure what stage your cancer is, ask your doctor. 


What is Stage I Colorectal Cancer?

The cancer has grown through several layers of the colon, but has not spread outside the colon wall itself.  Surgery to remove the cancer is the standard treatment.  Additional therapy is not needed.  Approximately 95% of patients with Stage I colorectal cancers are cured by surgery alone.

Explore Therapies for Stage I Colorectal Cancer 

What is Stage II Colorectal Cancer?

The cancer has grown through the wall of the colon and may extend into nearby tissue, but has not spread to the lymph nodes. Surgery is usually the only treatment needed for colon cancer but radiation therapy may be needed for rectal cancers.  In some cases your doctor may recommend additional chemotherapy.

Explore Therapies for Stage II Colorectal Cancer     

What is Stage III Colorectal Cancer?

The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but has not spread to other parts of the body.  Surgery is the first treatment, followed by chemotherapy.  Radiation therapy may be used depending on the location & size of the tumor.

Explore Therapies for Stage III Colorectal Cancer    

What is Stage IV Colorectal Cancer?

The cancer has spread to distant organs and tissues, most commonly the liver.  Depending on the extent of the tumor's spread, chemotherapy may be combined with with surgery and/or radiation.

Explore Therapies for Stage IV Colorectal Cancer