Colon or colorectal cancer, defined as cancer that starts in the large intestine or the rectum (the end of the colon) affects more than 103,000 Americans each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Colorectal cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC, but the number of new cases and deaths are both decreasing, due to better treatment and early detection. While more adults are being screened, one in three adults still isn’t getting screened for colorectal cancer when they should be.
Adults over the age of 50 are most likely to develop colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Family history of the disease; past endometrial, breast, ovarian, colon or rectal cancer; a history of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis; or a history of colon polyps can all increase a person’s risk of developing the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Bowel cancer affects 40,000 Britons and kills 16,000 each year. The disease usually starts in the large bowel but can rarely begin in the small bowel. Symptoms usually include abdominal pain, blood in the stool, unexplained constipation or diarrhea and unexplained weight loss.
Age, a low-fibre diet, being overweight, high alcohol intake, smoking and a family history of the disease puts you at an increased risk. The disease is usually treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Early detection and treatment usually results in a cure but late diagnosis only has a five year survival rate of 6 per cent.
Click through the slideshow below to see more celebs who faced the disease, stars who supported sick family members and other A-listers who have battled the disease.
10. Sam Simon
A nine-time Emmy winner, he wrote episodes of Cheers, Taxi, and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show before moving on to help create TV’s long-running animated hit, TheSimpsons. Upon his diagnosis with colorectal cancer in 2012, Simon, an avid animal lover, gave his $100 million fortune to animal rescue charities. He died in 2015 in his Los Angeles home.
The doctor said it was cancer, flashing a series of ominous looking scans. “I said, ‘Is it curable?’” he recalled in an interview with NBC. “And the doctor goes, ‘We don’t use that word. I will say that I can’t cure you, but I can keep you alive.’ He’s done a remarkable job. I’ve never been happier.” “I really did come very close to dying,” he said. “My colon cancer perforated my colon. When I woke up in the hospital, even though I did have a will, it did become that much more important to me to set this stuff up for the future.”