Sam Simon And 12 Other Celebrities Touched By Colorectal Cancer

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David Becker via Getty Images
David Becker via Getty Images

"The Simpsons" co-creator Sam Simon died on Sunday in his Los Angeles home after a long and public battle with colon cancer.

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.

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.

  • Katie Couric
    Keith Beaty via Getty Images
    The news anchor lost her husband, Jay, to colorectal cancer in 1998, and she "became determined to share my newfound knowledge about this deadly disease with the public," she wrote online.

    She launched the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance to help educate people, opened the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and later co-founded Stand Up To Cancer.
  • Sharon Osbourne
    Ilya S. Savenok via Getty Images
    When she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002, the TV personality (and Ozzy's wife) thought, "My work isn't finished here with my family," she told People. 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
    Getty
    The 40th president underwent surgery for colon cancer in July of 1985. Two feet of his colon were removed, according to Fitness magazine. He fully recovered, living until 2004, when he died at the age of 93, after 10 years battling Alzheimer's disease.
  • Pope John Paul II
    Getty
    The first Pope to be photographed in a hospital bed, John Paul had surgery to remove colon cancer in 1992. He died in 2005 at age 84.
  • Darryl Strawberry
    Charles Eshelman via Getty Images
    The baseball great, left, 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 cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.

    Today he is involved in raising autism awareness and engages in various public speaking endeavors.
  • Carmen Marc Valvo
    Slaven Vlasic via Getty Images
    As a colon cancer survivor, 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
    Walter McBride via Getty Images
    The actress starred in this public service announcement in 2008 alongside Valvo urging people to talk to their doctors to get screened for colorectal cancer.

    "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 People.com.
  • Vince Lombardi
    Raymond Boyd via Getty Images
    The football coach died at age 57 from colon cancer, after surgery to remove a tumor and a section of his colon. The Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation, created in his honor, has since raised over $15 million to fund cancer research and care.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    Allen Berezovsky via Getty Images
    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 public awareness campaign, according to CNN, before being diagnosed with leukemia in 2009, at the age of 62. He said his cancer was at "absolute minimum" in 2011.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    Getty
    The U.S. Supreme Court Justice was diagnosed with early-stage colon cancer 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 small tumor on her pancreas.
  • Audrey Hepburn
    Terry O'Neill via Getty Images
    The actress died in 1993 at the age of 63 from colon cancer. She had undergone surgery in November of 1992, the New York Times reported.
  • Eartha Kitt
    Steve Thorne via Getty Images
    The singer died in 2008 at age 81 from colon cancer, the AP reported.

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