Kirstie Alley: Following the revelation that actor Kirstie Alley passed away at age 71 from colon cancer, several medical professionals and cancer specialists urged individuals to undergo the advised screenings for the condition.
Tuesday, Alley’s management provided NBC News with confirmation that the actor passed away from colon cancer. A statement sent by Alley’s family on Monday evening stated that cancer had only recently been identified.
The statement read, “She fought with incredible strength, leaving us with a certainty of her never-ending joy of living and whatever adventures lie ahead. Her closest relatives accompanied her.”
The second-most lethal type of cancer in the U.S., behind lung cancer, is colorectal cancer, the fourth most frequent type. According to the National Cancer Institute, this year will see the diagnosis of over 151,000 new cases of colorectal cancer.
However, because its symptoms might be mistaken for those of other illnesses like hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer can be challenging to identify.
Dr. Paula Denoya, head of the Colorectal Surgery Residency Program at Stony Brook Medicine, said: “Unfortunately, colon cancer doesn’t have a lot of symptoms until it’s advanced, which is why screening is so crucial.”
According to Dr. Scott Kopetz, a professor in the division of gastrointestinal medical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the epidemic most likely delayed the diagnosis of some new cases.
“During Covid, patients have not had easy access to routine colonoscopies. Because of this, tumors that would have been detected at an earlier stage now present with more advanced and later stages, “explained he. Doctors advise everyone over 45 to obtain a colonoscopy every ten years because over 90% of colorectal cancer patients are 50 or older.
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However, diagnoses among younger persons have increased: According to the American Cancer Society, between 2012 and 2016, the number of new instances of colorectal cancer among those under 50 increased by more than 2% per year.
Dr. Joel Levine, co-director of the UConn Health Colon Cancer Prevention Program, stated that it is anticipated that within a short period, 15% of colorectal cancers will affect those under 50.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the overall rate of new colorectal cancer diagnoses in the U.S. has decreased from approximately 67 per 100,000 individuals in 1985 to around 34 in 2019.
Rectal bleeding or changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, might be early indicators of the disease. Abdominal pain, exhaustion, anemia, weight loss, and decreased appetite are additional symptoms that patients with more severe illnesses may encounter. Levine, however, argued that even when a person feels healthy, they still need a colonoscopy.