Kirstie Alley, the Emmy-Winning actress known for her roles in the sit-coms ‘Cheers’ and ‘Veronica’s Closet’ died in early December at the age of 71. The cause, according to her children is colon cancer.
“We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” Alley’s children, True and Lillie Parker, said in a statement on social media.
“She was surrounded by her closest family and fought with great strength, leaving us with a certainty of her never-ending joy of living and whatever adventures lie ahead. As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother,” the statement continued.
Alley’s death serves as a reminder of the importance of screening for colorectal cancer and early detection of the disease.
Colorectal Cancer Facts: Earlier Diagnosis Increases Chance of Survival
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer globally – behind breast and lung cancers. While about 18,000 Americans under the age of 50 were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2020, colorectal cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among those under 50, and that rate keeps rising, according to the National Cancer Institute. In fact, 90% of cases are diagnosed in individuals older than 50.
One in 23 men, and one in 25 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society, and the risk increases with age.
The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is 64%, and the ten-year survival rate is 58%. The most vital predictor for survival is the stage when the cancer is diagnosed.
When the cancer is diagnosed before it has spread, about 40% of the time, the five-year survival rate is 90%.
The problem is colorectal cancer may not cause any symptoms in those early stages, when treatment is likely easier. Still there are symptoms. So, you must listen to your body and if something feels off – get it checked. Symptoms can include changes in your bowel habits, blood in your stool, rectal bleeding, weight loss or fatigue. Colorectal cancer can also cause cramping – which women may mistake as menstrual cramps.
That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends routine screenings — including stool-based tests to detect abnormal DNA, colonoscopies and virtual colonoscopies — starting at age 45 and earlier if there’s a family history or if you develop irregularities or bowel problems.
And while after the age of 75 selective screening is advised, a new study published last year in JAMA Oncology suggests screening for colorectal cancer beyond 75 is beneficial. The risk of dying decreased by about one-third in those older than 75 who had screenings with a colonoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy.
Colon Cancer Treatment Options
If screening leads to a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, you have treatment options including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation – or sometimes a combination.
According to the American Cancer Society, radiation tends to be used more for rectal cancer than colon cancer. But it can be effective with certain types of colon cancers or if the cancer has metastasized.
- Radiation along with chemotherapy can shrink a tumor before surgery.
- It can kill any lingering cancer cells after surgery or during surgery.
- Radiation may be used along with chemotherapy in patients who are not surgical candidates.
- It can relieve symptoms of advanced cancer, like blockages.
CyberKnife Use in Colon or Rectal Cancer
Many times, treatment with conventional radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy still does not stop the cancer from spreading to other organs. CyberKnife is particularly useful in cases where the cancer has spread or if there was previous radiation used. Colon cancer typically spreads to the liver or lungs. CyberKnife can quickly alleviate these lesions and keep them from becoming an issue.
With CyberKnife there is no downtime and minimal side effects. Plus, the system uses a higher concentration of radiation, as a result treatment can be completed in five or less one-hour sessions – much less than with traditional radiation.
Cancer Treatment Center Miami
CyberKnife Miami opened 20 years ago and was the first CyberKnife center to open in the Southeast United States. Since that time, we have successfully treated thousands of patients – including those with colorectal cancers.
If you are interested in learning more about CyberKnife for colorectal cancer, call us now at 305-279-2900 or go to our website www.cyberknifemiami.com.