Metastatic Colorectal Carcinoma

Metastatic Colorectal Carcinoma: A Comprehensive Guide

Colorectal carcinoma, or colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer in the United States. As with many cancers, the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the chances of survival. Metastatic colorectal carcinoma, however, has spread beyond the colon to other organs and tissue, such as the liver. Once the cancer has metastasized, or spread, it's considered to be Stage 4 and is significantly more difficult to treat successfully.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

As with early stage colorectal cancer, some individuals with metastatic colorectal carcinoma may experience no symptoms while others may experience a wide range of symptoms. Generally, metastatic colorectal cancer symptoms appear in the area around the primary tumor site; however, this is not always the case. Possible symptoms of metastatic colorectal cancer include abdominal pain, tiredness, weight loss, and changes in bowel movements. It's important to mention any symptoms to your doctor as soon as possible to aid in early detection and more effective treatment.

Factors that put someone at an increased risk for colorectal cancer include age, a family history of the disease, and being overweight. Those who have already been treated for colorectal cancer are also at an elevated risk. It's also important to mention that cigarette smoking is closely linked to colorectal cancer.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If a doctor suspects metastatic colorectal cancer, tests like endoscopy, imaging scans, and biopsies may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. Further tests may be ordered to determine metastases, such as genetic testing, tissue markers, and liver enzyme levels.

Treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer may include:

  • Surgery to remove tumors or part of an organ.
  • Targeted therapy drugs, which target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
  • Immunotherapy, which uses substances to activate the body's immune system to fight cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy, which uses medications to destroy cancer cells.
  • Radiation, which uses radiation to attack cancer cells.

In order to determine the best treatment plan possible, a variety of factors, such as the cancer type, size, and location, may be taken into consideration. It's also important to be aware that the side effects of treatment can vary, depending on the type of treatment.


Metastatic colorectal carcinoma can be a difficult diagnosis to receives; however, treatments have improved greatly over the years and with the right combination of therapies, a positive outcome is possible. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of colorectal cancer so that diagnosis and treatment can occur as early as possible. Also, while some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to the disease, it's through lifestyle choices like exercise, healthy diet, and avoiding smoking that can help reduce the chance of developing the disease.