Music Icon Bob Seger Remembers Friend & Saxophonist Alto Reed Who Passed from Colon Cancer: ‘He Was So Brave’

Published Jun 18, 2021

Anne McCarthy

Seger Remembers Reed Who Passed from Colon Cancer

  • In a new interview with SiriusXM, rocker Bob Seger remembers Alto Reed, who passed from colon cancer last year at 72.
  • Colon cancer is typically detected via colonoscopy, which looks for polyps – small white growths – in the colon.
  • Treatment options for colon cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Rocker Bob Seger didn’t just endure a pandemic last year, the Turn the Page singer also grieved the loss of his Silver Bullet Band bandmate, saxophonist Alto Reed, who passed in December after a battle with colon cancer at 72.

Related: Remembering Iconic Musician Gregg Allman, Who Passed Away 4 Years Ago To Liver Cancer; A Life Filled With Bravery & Music

Reed was a mainstay with Seger for a whopping 42 years during which he toured with Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. The talented saxophonist accompanied Seger on seminal albums, such as Live Bullet. In 2004, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, including Reed, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Like Seger, Reed was a Detroit native. Seger told Rolling Stone shortly after Reed’s death, “I may have been the leader, but he was our rock star.” Reed was a rockstar through and through and he shined as the band’s saxophonist for over four decades.

In a new interview with SiriusXM, which marked the 45th anniversary of his albums Live Bullet and Night Moves, Seger shared how Reed delivered the news of his diagnosis of stage four colon cancer on a phone call one day.

“I listened really hard to him,” Seger says. “And he said ‘how grateful I am for my wonderful life.’ … I thought that was so beautiful, and I thought he was so brave. I don’t think I could go out (on tour) without him.”

Screening for Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is typically detected via colonoscopy, which looks for polyps – small white growths – in the colon. The overwhelming majority of polyps – 95% – are precancerous, which means that could turn into cancer. Cedars-Sinai colorectal surgeon Dr. Zuri Murrell describes this process in an earlier interview.

Related: New Study Shows 1 in 6 Colon Cancer Patients Have Hereditary Gene Mutations; The Importance of Genetic Testing

“When we’re looking at a colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening,” says Dr. Murrell, “what we do is we’re looking for polyps, which are these small growths. When we see a polyp, we actually physically take the polyp out through the colonoscope.”

Related: Stage One Colon Cancer

“That means we basically put a wire through with a little bit of a little flange at the end and we pull the polyp out. Now, note there is no pain with that. Inside the colon, there are no pain fibers. [Then] we send that to a lab,” he says. “So when it’s in the lab, a pathologist basically cuts up the little polyp and looks under a microscope. And underneath the microscope, they can decide whether or not it is early cancer or whether it is just a precancerous polyp.”

Looking for Polyps During Colonoscopy

Colon Cancer Treatment Options

Colon cancer treatment paths are typically determined based on the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. Treatment options for this disease include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Related: Deciding When to Operate on Colon Cancer

Surgery is a common treatment option for many. In an earlier interview, Dr. Murrell explained laparoscopic surgery for treating this disease. He says, “Traditional cancer surgery, colon cancer surgery, we would make a large incision from stem to stern, open up, and physically remove the cancer. As you can imagine, this can cause a great deal of pain.”

Related: SurvivorNet Guide: Treating Early-Stage Colon Cancer

“It wasn’t from the actual removing the mass or the reconnection of the colon, it was actually from that incision,” explains Dr. Murrell. “So then we developed laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is when we’re able to make various small incisions, and with specialized instruments, we’re able to remove the mass and reconnect you, and pull the specimen out of a bigger incision about this big.”

Related: The Type of Colon Surgery Depends on the Location of the Tumor

Laparoscopic surgery is just as effective, he assures us. “What I tell patients is that for colon cancer, laparoscopic is equal to open surgery when done correctly. And to me, this is one of the best ways to do it because you minimize the incisions– and it’s not just for cosmesis,” says Dr. Murrell.

What is Laparoscopic Surgery for Colon Cancer?

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