NASCAR driver John Andretti has died at age 56, according to a statement released by Andretti Autosport. The nephew of legendary racer Mario Andretti, John Andretti passed away following a long battle with colon cancer.
"It's with the heaviest of hearts we share that John Andretti has today lost his battle with cancer. John was a loving husband and father, a devoted son and a trusted cousin. He was a philanthropist, an advocate for the sport, a dedicated teammate, a driven competitor and most importantly a dear friend," the statement reads, in part.
Andretti was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and in women in the U.S. The organization estimates that colorectal cancer will cause around 53,200 deaths during 2020.
Fortunately, the death rates for those diagnosed with colorectal cancer have been on the decline for decades. The American Cancer Society credits better screening and improved treatment, resulting in more than 1 million colon cancer survivors living in the U.S.
Unfortunately, it's not all good news.
While the overall death rate from colorectal cancer continues to drop, deaths increased 2 percent in people under 55-years-old between 2016 and 2017. Survival rates vary, depending on how far the cancer has progressed by the time it is detected. When the cancer is still localized -- meaning there is no evidence that it has spread -- patients have a 90 percent chance at a five-year survival rate, meaning people who have developed colorectal cancer at that stage are 90 percent as likely to live five years as those who have not.
Patients at the regional stage, in which the cancer has spread outside the colon, have a 71 percent chance at a five-year life expectancy. Distant stage colorectal cancer patients -- cases in which the cancer has reached distant parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, or distant lymph nodes -- are given a 14 percent chance at a five-year life expectancy, based on information from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that colon cancer is the third-most common cancer in males and females. Per the CDC, the number of adults aged 50- to 75-years-old who were up-to-date with colorectal cancer screenings increased nearly 1.5 percent from 2016 to 2018. While that number might sound incrementally small when expressed thusly, it translates to an additional 3.5 million adults screened for colorectal cancer. Still, the CDC says that nearly 25 percent of adults have not been properly screened, as recommended.