Treatment for Stage 0 and Stage I Colon Cancer


Most often, patients diagnosed with stage 0 and stage I colon cancer are cured by the surgery that removes the cancerous polyps or tumor.


Surgery for colon or rectal cancer

  • Polypectomy: snaring and removing polyps containing cancer during a colonoscopy.
  • Local excision: removal of flat colon growths “piecemeal” during colonoscopy.
  • Open abdominal surgery to remove cancer, part of colon, and nearby lymph nodes in high risk situations where:
    • There is a spread to polyp stalk
    • There is spread to lymphatic vessels (not lymph nodes)
    • Cells look very abnormal under the microscope (high grade)
    • Surgical margins (edge of tissue) contain cancer cells or can’t be evaluated or contain cancer cells.
    • Local excision would be too time-consuming or difficult to perform.


Chemotherapy is not recommended for stage 0 colon cancer.

Stage I


Colectomy (resection): Abdominal surgery to remove the section of colon where the tumor is located, tissue containing blood and lymph vessels surrounding the colon (mesentery), healthy tissue margins on either side, and at least 12 lymph nodes, if possible. Then the remaining ends of colon are reconnected with sutures or staples. This connection is called an anastomosis.

Open colectomy: An incision is made in the abdomen, surgery performed through the opening, and the incision closed with sutures and/or staples.
Laparoscopic colectomy: Three small keyhole incisions are made to insert a lighted instrument and specially designed surgical instruments that can be manipulated within the abdomen. Sometimes an incision is made just long enough for the surgeon’s hand to assist during laparoscopy.


Chemotherapy is not recommended for stage I colon cancer.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Al Benson, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, 9/23/13