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    Rectal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Stages of Rectal Cancer

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    Stage II

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    Stage II rectal cancer. In stage IIA, cancer has spread through the muscle layer of the rectum wall to the serosa. In stage IIB, cancer has spread through the serosa but has not spread to nearby organs. In stage IIC, cancer has spread through the serosa to nearby organs.

    Stage II rectal cancer is divided into stage IIA, stage IIB, and stage IIC.

    • Stage IIA: Cancer has spread through the muscle layer of the rectum wall to the serosa (outermost layer) of the rectum wall.
    • Stage IIB: Cancer has spread through the serosa (outermost layer) of the rectum wall but has not spread to nearby organs.
    • Stage IIC: Cancer has spread through the serosa (outermost layer) of the rectum wall to nearby organs.

    Stage III

    Stage III rectal cancer is divided into stage IIIA, stage IIIB, and stage IIIC.

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    Stage IIIA rectal cancer. Cancer may have spread through the mucosa of the rectum wall to the submucosa and muscle layer, and has spread to one to three nearby lymph nodes or tissues near the lymph nodes. OR, cancer has spread through the mucosa to the submucosa and four to six nearby lymph nodes.

    In stage IIIA:

    • Cancer may have spread through the mucosa (innermost layer) of the rectum wall to the submucosa (layer of tissue under the mucosa) and may have spread to the muscle layer of the rectum wall. Cancer has spread to at least one but not more than 3 nearby lymph nodes or cancer cells have formed in tissues near the lymph nodes; or
    • Cancer has spread through the mucosa (innermost layer) of the rectum wall to the submucosa (layer of tissue under the mucosa). Cancer has spread to at least 4 but not more than 6 nearby lymph nodes.

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    Stage IIIB rectal cancer. Cancer has spread through the muscle layer of the rectum wall to the serosa or has spread through the serosa but not to nearby organs; cancer has spread to one to three nearby lymph nodes or to tissues near the lymph nodes. OR, cancer has spread to the muscle layer or to the serosa, and to four to six nearby lymph nodes. OR, cancer has spread through the mucosa to the submucosa and may have spread to the muscle layer; cancer has spread to seven or more nearby lymph nodes.

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