Actress Kirstie Alley, who won Emmys and Golden Globes for her television roles in “Cheers” and “Veronica’s Closet,” died on December 5, 2022. She was 71 years old. A spokesperson for Alley confirmed that she had been diagnosed with colon cancer before her death.

The rise in colorectal cancer deaths 

Colorectal cancer is the second-most common cause of cancer deaths this year, according to the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends regular checkups for people aged 45 and older to help keep colon and rectal cancer at bay. Last year, the task force lowered the age recommendation after a spike in colorectal cancer cases among younger adults.

The American Cancer Society has issued new recommendations for colorectal cancer screening that apply to everyone over the age of 45 to 75. It includes people with no symptoms, no family history of colon or rectal disease, no prior diagnosis, and no personal history of polyps. 

Types of noninvasive tests available

Stool tests: This is the least invasive option and should be done at least once a year. It helps detect signs of cancer or other problems, but you will still need a colonoscopy. Note that bleeding in your stool does not always mean you have cancer. There are other conditions like ulcers and hemorrhoids that can cause rectal bleeding as well.

DNA stool test: The DNA test can screen for the genetic abnormalities that cause colorectal cancer. It only needs to be done once every three years. You’ll need to send an entire stool sample for testing. If any signs are detected, you’ll need a colonoscopy.  

Invasive tests 

Colonoscopy: This is the most widely used test to detect colon cancer. Colonoscopies allow doctors to examine the entire length of the colon and rectum with a tube about as thick as a finger with a small video camera.

Virtual colonoscopy: During this test, you will be injected with a radioactive material that will help the radiologist create three-dimensional images of your colon and rectum. If a suspicious mass is detected, you’ll need a colonoscopy to remove the mass.  

Celebs raising public awareness 

People avoid colonoscopies because of the preparation involved. So, celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney decided to film humorous videos of their own procedures to raise awareness and encourage people to get screened for colon cancer.