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Colorectal Cancer: Robin Gibb And 12 Other Celebrities Touched By The Disease

Posted: Updated: 04/23/2012 6:00 pm

Colorectal Cancer

The Bee Gees' Robin Gibb is battling colorectal cancer, according to recent news reports.

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.

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 spoken out to raise awareness and support the cause.

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  • Katie Couric

    The news anchor lost her husband, Jay, to colorectal cancer in 1998, and she "became <a href="" target="_hplink">determined to share my newfound knowledge</a> about this deadly disease with the public," she wrote online. She launched the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance to help educate people, opened the <a href="" target="_hplink">Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health</a> at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and later <a href="" target="_hplink">co-founded Stand Up To Cancer</a>.

  • Sharon Osbourne

    When she was <a href=",,20230629,00.html" target="_hplink">diagnosed with colon cancer</a> in 2002, the TV personality (and Ozzy's wife) thought, "My work isn't finished here with my family," she told <em>People</em>. That drive to survive got her through surgery and chemo, helping her to remain cancer-free since May 2004. "You can go, 'Why me?' Or you fight the cancer and say, 'You are gone,'" she said.

  • Ronald Reagan

    The 40th president underwent <a href="" target="_hplink">surgery for colon cancer</a> in July of 1985. <a href="" target="_hplink">Two feet of his colon</a> were removed, according to <em>Fitness</em> magazine. He fully recovered, living until 2004, when he <a href=",2933,121883,00.html" target="_hplink">died at the age of 93</a>, after 10 years battling Alzheimer's disease.

  • Pope John Paul II

    The first Pope to be photographed in a hospital bed, John Paul had <a href=",9171,221129,00.html" target="_hplink">surgery to remove colon cancer</a> in 1992. He <a href="" target="_hplink">died in 2005</a> at age 84.

  • Darryl Strawberry

    The baseball great underwent surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer in 1998, and announced in 2000 that the cancer had returned, according to the AP. Strawberry's agent said a CT scan suggested the <a href="" target="_hplink">cancer had spread to the lymph nodes</a>. Today he is involved in <a href="" target="_hplink">raising autism awareness</a> and engages in various public speaking endeavors.

  • Carmen Marc Valvo

    As a <a href="" target="_hplink">colon cancer survivor</a>, the fashion designer is involved in many efforts to raise awareness for colorectal cancer. He has joined forces with Katie Couric, the NCCRA and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, among others, according to his website. "Before I was diagnosed with colon cancer I was totally unaware of my own family history relating to the disease. With no family history on record, I was not eligible for prescreening by insurance and would have normally had to wait until the age of 50 for my first colon cancer screening. Had I waited my prognoses would have been much, much different," he has said.

  • Vanessa Williams

    The actress starred in this public service announcement in 2008 alongside Valvo urging people to talk to their doctors to <a href=",,20184261,00.html" target="_hplink">get screened for colorectal cancer</a>. "My good friend Carmen is living proof that colorectal cancer is treatable. As a first step, we want to encourage people to talk to their doctors about getting screened.," she told

  • Vince Lombardi

    The football coach <a href="" target="_hplink">died at age 57 from colon cancer</a>, after surgery to remove a tumor and a section of his colon. The <a href="" target="_hplink">Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation</a>, created in his honor, has since raised over $15 million to fund cancer research and care.

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

    The basketball great told CNN, "My grandfather died from colorectal cancer, my uncle died from colorectal cancer and my father almost died from colorectal cancer," adding that he himself has the gene. He became involved in a <a href="" target="_hplink">public awareness campaign</a>, according to CNN, before being diagnosed with leukemia in 2009, at the age of 62. He said his cancer was at <a href="" target="_hplink">"absolute minimum"</a> in 2011.

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    The U.S. Supreme Court Justice was <a href="" target="_hplink">diagnosed with early-stage colon cancer</a> in 1999 and never missed a day on the bench during treatment, ABC News reported. In 2009, it was revealed that she had also undergone surgery to move a <a href="" target="_hplink">small tumor on her pancreas</a>.

  • Audrey Hepburn

    The actress died in 1993 at the age of 63 <a href="" target="_hplink">from colon cancer</a>. She had undergone surgery in November of 1992, the <em>New York Times</em> reported.

  • Eartha Kitt

    The singer died in 2008 at age 81 <a href=",2933,472987,00.html" target="_hplink">from colon cancer</a>, the AP reported.


Filed by Sarah Klein  |