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Photo by: Fred Harrington

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Jim Corsi passed away Tuesday, just one day after announcing he was diagnosed with advanced liver and colon cancer. He was 60 years old.

In an interview with WBZ-TV in Boston on Monday, Corsi said he was at peace with his diagnosis.

“I know if I die, I’m going to a better place,” Corsi said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. I feel sorry for everybody that I’ll leave behind.”

In the interview Corsi also said he made a mistake when he was younger by not getting a colonoscopy.

“I was a professional athlete and thought I was invincible, strong,” said Corsi. “You’re not. Cancer is not prejudiced to anybody.”

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States. About 104,000 Americans were diagnosed with colon cancer in 2021, while another 45,000 were diagnosed with rectal cancer.

Dr. Mark Friedman, Moffitt gastroenterologist

“People should know that colon cancer is a preventable disease,” said Dr. Mark Friedman, a gastroenterologist in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Department. “If a patient is screened appropriately, early detection and treatment drastically improves outcomes. Colon cancer can affect all genders and races and people should talk to their health care providers about when they should start screening.”

In May, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lowered the recommended age for people of average risk to start colorectal cancer screenings to 45 instead of 50. The move aligns with guidelines issued by the American Cancer Society in 2018 and highlights growing concerns around an increase in colorectal cancer cases among young people.

Those with certain risk factors are encouraged to begin screenings sooner. Factors that warrant colon cancer testing include:

  • Being African American or Black
  • Having a personal or family history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer
  • Having certain inherited syndromes, such as Lynch syndrome or adenomatous polyposis 
  • Having inflammatory intestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

Symptoms of colon cancer may not appear right away, and when they do they can often mimic other health issues, such as hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis. If you notice any possible signs of colon cancer, it is important to contact your physician.

The five most common signs are:

  • A change in bowel habits — Diarrhea, constipation, rectal bleeding, a feeling that the bowel does not empty completely or a narrowing of the stool
  • A change in stool color — Bright red or very dark stools (which could indicate the presence of blood)
  • Gastrointestinal distress — Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, cramps or vomiting
  • Exhaustion — Overwhelming and unexplained feelings of fatigue or weakness
  • Weight loss — A decrease in fat, muscle mass or body fluid that is unrelated to diet or exercise