Sharon Osbourne's Experience With Colon Cancer

Cancer Had Spread Beyond Her Colon

Sharon Osbourne, known for her role as the heavy metal mom on MTV's "The Osbournes" reality show and the daytime TV show The Talk, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002. Her family rallied around her and she took the diagnosis in stride. Reportedly, she encouraged daughter Kelly to return to New York City for recording sessions and husband Ozzy to continue with his Ozzfest tour. The reality series went on as scheduled for a second season, and cameras followed Sharon as she underwent treatment.

Sharon, who also reportedly later had surgery to correct a hernia and subsequently contracted pneumonia, has reportedly recovered fully from the cancer diagnosis.

Sharon Osbourne
Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Surgery and Chemotherapy

Sharon, who was 49 years old at the time of diagnosis and had no family history of colon cancer, had surgery to remove a foot of large intestine and some surrounding lymph nodes on July 3, 2002. One of the lymph nodes tested positive for cancer, which indicated that the disease had spread beyond her colon. Osbourne underwent chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells that weren't removed during her surgery. She recovered uneventfully and has remained cancer-free.

Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

Even though colon cancer is curable when caught early, it is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Risk factors for colon cancer include a family history, a personal history of colon cancer or polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, age over 50, obesity, and smoking. Risk of colon cancer can be decreased by participating in even moderate amounts of exercise, losing weight, not smoking, and eating a vegetable-rich diet and limiting red and processed meat.

Most people who develop colon cancer do not have a family history of the disease. This is why it is important for all people who are over the age of 45, including those who don't have a family member with colon cancer or even one who has had polyps, get screened for colon cancer. People with risk factors should be screened before the age of 45, as recommended by a primary care provider, an internist, or a gastroenterologist.

Colon Cancer Screening

Colon cancer screening is integral to catching the disease early when it is most curable. Beginning at age 45, the American Cancer Society recommends getting screened.

In people who are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer due to ulcerative colitis, family history of colorectal cancer, or familial polyposis, screening may be recommended earlier.

Osbourne underwent resection surgery, which is the most common kind of surgery done to treat colon cancer. The diseased section of the colon or rectum is removed along with lymph nodes and part of the healthy colon. The two healthy ends are then reattached with the goal of returning the patient to the most normal bowel function possible.

Chemotherapy For Colon Cancer

Chemotherapy is the use of one or more of several drugs to kill cancer cells and is often used after surgery for treatment of colon cancer. It works by stopping the division and reproduction of cancer cells. When, where, and how chemotherapy is used will depend on the stage of the cancer, the health of the patient, and the doctor's preferences. Troubling side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea and hair loss can often be treated or counteracted.

After chemotherapy, most patients continue to undergo testing to ensure the effectiveness of treatment. Blood tests and X-rays may be used during follow up doctor visits to track the cancer and make any further decisions on treatment.

A Note From Verywell

Sharon Osbourne weathered colon cancer because it was caught early and treated. Colon cancer is preventable when polyps are removed before they have a chance to turn cancerous. This is best done through screening colonoscopies. That's why it is so important that people be screened according to guidelines. When polyps are removed in time, lives can be improved and even saved because colon cancer won't have a chance to take hold.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Cancer Institute. Cancer stat facts: colorectal cancer.

  2. American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer risk factors.

  3. Shaukat A, Kahi CJ, Burke CA, Rabeneck L, Sauer BG, Rex DK. ACG clinical guidelines: colorectal cancer screening 2021Am J Gastroenterol. 2021;116(3):458-479. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000001122

  4. American Cancer Society. Can colorectal cancer be prevented?

  5. American Cancer Society. Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer.

By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.