Colon cancer claimed the life of Kirstie Alley. These are early symptoms of the disease.

Colon cancer can be difficult to detect and diagnose. Doctors say regular screenings are important for people over 45.

Many doctors and cancer specialists encouraged people to have the recommended screenings after the tragic news that Kirstie Alley, an actor, died from colon cancer at the age of 71.

On Tuesday, Alley’s manager confirmed that the actor had died from colon cancer. Alley’s family stated in a Statement Monday night that the cancer was only just being discovered.

The statement stated that “She was surrounded with her closest family and fought bravely, leaving us with a certainty about her never-ending joy of life and all the adventures ahead.”

The fourth most common type of cancer in America is colorectal cancer. It is also the second-most fatal after lung cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute , around 151,000 cases will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year.

Colon cancer is difficult to diagnose because symptoms may resemble other conditions such as hemorhoids and irritable bowel syndrome.

“Unfortunately, colon carcinoma doesn’t show many symptoms until it is advanced. This is why screening is so crucial,” stated Dr. Paula Denoya who is the director of the Colorectal Surgery Resincy Program at Stony Brook Medicine.

According to Dr. Scott Kopetz (a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology), the pandemic likely delayed the detection of new cases.

Covid has not made routine colonoscopy available to patients. He said that cancers that could have been detected earlier are now showing up at a later stage.

Dec. 6, 202201:16

Nearly 90% of colorectal cancer patients are age 50 or older, so doctors recommend that everyone over 45 get a colonoscopy every 10 years.

But diagnoses in younger adults have been rising: New cases of colorectal cancer went up more than 2% each year among people under 50 from 2012 to 2016, according to the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Joel Levine, codirector of UConn Health’s Colon Cancer Prevention Program, stated that there is a possibility that colorectal cancers will reach 15% in those under 50.

According to the National Cancer Institute , overall, there has been a decline in colorectal cancer incidences in the United States. It fell from around 67 cases per 100,000 in 1985 to 34 in 2019.

Rectal bleeding and changes in bowel movement such as constipation, diarrhea or nausea can be early signs of the disease. Patients suffering from more severe illnesses may experience anemia, abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, or decreased appetite.

Levine stated that people should have colonoscopies regardless of whether they feel well.

He said, “One reason I am so fussy about waiting for symptoms to appear is because it leads me to believe that everything is fine, and the horse is just a bit out of my barn.”

Doctors can perform colonoscopies to examine the colon and remove any precancerous growths. This helps prevent cancer from developing. The procedure is not covered by insurance and requires anesthesia or sedation. It can also cost thousands of dollars.

Denoya stated that patients face barriers when it comes to colonoscopies. This could be because they lack insurance or are unable to work. Or they may be unable to afford it.

Doctors may recommend a stool test as an alternative to these tests for patients who are experiencing problems. There are several types. One called Cologuard can detect DNA changes and should be performed every three years. Denoya stated that this test can detect cancer, but is less effective in identifying precancerous growths.

The FIT is a second type of stool test that looks for hidden traces or blood. This may indicate the presence of cancer. Denoya stated that the test should be done annually. Doctors will recommend a colonoscopy if either test shows abnormal results.

Other risk factors for colon carcinoma include obesity, smoking, and drinking habits.

More colorectal cancer cases in the United States are due to behavior patterns. This includes physical inactivity, eating high-quality red meat and low amounts of vegetables, as well as low levels of fiber.

An increased risk of developing colon cancer in the family is also possible.

Denoya stated that if someone has a sibling or parent with colon cancer, they would begin screening 10 years earlier than when their family member had it.

Early diagnosis is key to high survival rates for patients.

Denoya stated that if a patient is diagnosed with stage one or localized carcinoma, and it’s located in the colon, it’s 90% curative with surgery.

Advanced cases may need chemotherapy or radiation. After five years , people whose cancer has spread to other lymph nodes and areas around their colon have a 72% chance of survival. Patients whose cancer has spread further than one organ or to more distant lymph nodes will see a 14% survival rate.

More Stories

Stay informed by joining TruthRow

24/7 coverage from 1000+ journalists. Subscriber-exclusive events. Unmatched political and international news.

You can cancel anytime