Randy Gonzalez, loved on TikTok as the father of the duo Enkyboys, died of colon cancer this week. He was 35. His brother David told CBS News that Gonzalez died Wednesday, one week after he entered hospice care.
After his diagnosis in late 2020 — he went public with it in a TikTok video in April 2021 — Gonzalez and his son Brice “have used their platform on TikTok to raise awareness about colon cancer and to document his condition for their 15 million followers, Rolling Stone reported. “Their uplifting bond has been a source of inspiration for their audience.”
Brice plays the character “Chance” on the show “Lopez and Lopez.” Comedian George Lopez posted a tribute on social media.
The American Cancer Society says colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the U.S. When the numbers are combined, it’s the second-leading cause of cancer deaths overall. The society predicts 52,550 colorectal cancer deaths in 2023.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer (not counting skin cancer) and the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
Screening for the disease and better treatments are believed responsible for a downward trend in the death rate for both men and women, the society says. But the numbers are still high.
About colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum and can spread beyond the intestinal tract. As the American Cancer Society explains, it typically starts as a growth, called a polyp, on the inner lining of the rectum or colon. The cancer can spread to nearby lymph nodes or travel to other parts of the body. There are also different types of less-common tumors.
Not all polyps become cancer. But during a colonoscopy, in which a small camera is inserted to examine the rectum and intestine, polyps that can be seen can be removed.
There are a number of risk factors — some avoidable, some not. Avoidable risk factors include being overweight or obese, not getting physical activity and diets that are rich in red meats and processed meats. The society says cooking meat at very high temperatures, including by broiling, frying or grilling might raise the risk, though that’s still not completely clear.
Low vitamin D increases risk, too.
Other risk factors include smoking, not getting enough fiber and alcoholic intake.
Some risk factors can’t be changed. including aging, a personal history of either colorectal polyps or the cancer itself, having inflammatory bowel disease (not the same as irritable bowel syndrome) or a family history of either colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps, among others risks.
African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer rate. Type 2 diabetes also increases the risk.
And in some cases, no risk factor is ever identified.
When to screen
The American Cancer Society suggests that people without those known risk factors begin regular screening at age 45, either using a stool-laced test or a visual exam of the rectum and colon. Absent a disease that reduces life expectancy to less than 10 years, they should continue screening every 10 years to age 75.
Average risk means an individual doesn’t have any of the previously listed risk factors.
“For people ages 76 through 85,” the society says that “the decision to be screened should be based on a person’s preferences, life expectancy, overall health and prior screening history.”
After 85, the screening is not considered necessary.
People with risk factors should discuss a screening schedule with their health care provider.