Miss Cleo and Colorectal Cancer

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 7/28/16 12:00 PM


Courtesy of Youtube

You may have seen the news that well-known infomercial psychic Miss Cleo, whose actual name was Youree Harris, recently passed away from colon cancer at the age of 53. She died while she was surrounded by her friends and family after entering into hospice care.

Here’s an old commercial of hers:

The details about Miss Cleo’s condition are not known, so it’s impossible to claim that Miss Cleo’s colon cancer could have been prevented with a colonoscopy.

Nonetheless, we are offering some preventative colorectal cancer education and background information that is important to understand.

  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. [1]
  • Fortunately, up to 90% of colorectal cancer deaths are preventable with early detection. [2]
  • The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at average risk levels should started getting screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. One type of recommended screening is to get a colonoscopy once every 10 years. Routine colonoscopy screening can detect colorectal cancer.
  • Unlike screenings for other types of cancer, colonoscopies can also prevent cancer in certain circumstances. When colonoscopies are conducted early enough, gastroenterologists can detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps before they become cancerous.
  • Out of all the patients whose primary care physicians refer them to get a colonoscopy, only 50% of them will actually complete the colonoscopy. [3]
  • 40% of patients who did not complete colonoscopies, regardless of fears or concerns about the procedure itself, encountered system barriers to arranging the procedure. [4]

This information is only scratching the surface on colorectal screening. Colon Cancer Alliance has more information about prevention, research and patient support.

For more details about the topic of PCP referrals for colonoscopies, see our previous posts So Many Colonoscopy Referrals, So Few Appointments and EHR Alerts: A Real Bummer for Colonoscopy Adherence, Study Suggests.


[1] BioMed research international | http://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2015/285096/

[2] Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention | http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/14/2/409.full

[3] Journal of General Internal Medicine | http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490266/

[4] Journal of General Internal Medicine | http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490266/


Topics: Patient Adherence, Colorectal Screening