55KRC: Death of Kirstie Alley highlights importance of colon cancer screening

Actor Kirstie Alley died of colon cancer at age 71 last month, with her family stating the cancer had only been recently discovered prior to her death.

Carla F. Justiniano, MD, a University of Cincinnati Cancer Center colorectal surgeon and assistant professor in UC's College of Medicine, joined 55KRC's Simply Medicine radio show and podcast to discuss colon cancer screening following Alley's death. She noted colon cancer often does not have any noticeable symptoms, which leads to late detection after it has reached advanced stages.

Justiniano said the best prevention for colon cancer is to begin regular colonoscopies beginning at age 45. If the results are clear, colonoscopies are recommended every 10 years, with a more frequent schedule possibly needed in certain cases.

"What’s really special about a colonoscopy compared to some of the other screening methods is that we can both see what’s going on and detect cancer, but we can also prevent some cancer," she said. "If we find little polyps or even big polyps, we can simply remove them at the same time of the colonoscopy. So the colonoscopy is not only identifying a cancer or problem, but it can also prevent one by removing the little polyps that might be there already."

Listen to the Simply Medicine interview. (Note: Segment begins around 32:03 mark.)

Featured photo at top courtesy of iStock Photo.

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