Adan Canto was a Mexican-born American actor in several television series including “The Cleaning Lady”, “The Following”, “Designated Survivor”, “Narcos” and “Blood and Oil.” He played Sunspot in the movie “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and he wrote and directed the films “Before Tomorrow” and “The Shot.”

On January 8, 2024, he died at age of 42 from appendix cancer, a very rare type of cancer.

Early Life and an Acting Career Cut Short
Adan Canto was born in Cuidad Acuna, Mexico and went to school in Texas, crossing the border each day to attend Catholic schools in Del Rio. He left school at age 16 and worked as a musician in Texas and Mexico City. He was cast in commercials and then in television series in Mexico, and in 2013, he was cast in a Fox TV drama series in the U.S., “The Following.” That success was followed by several roles in other series, and he co-starred in Halle Berry’s film, “Bruised.”

Meanwhile, he started his own production company, Canto House Pictures. His short film, “The Shot,” received awards for Best Narrative Short Film in 2020. Canto had other film projects underway at the time of his death.

Cancer of the Appendix
Appendiceal cancer affects one per million North Americans each year, most commonly at ages 50 to 60. Low-grade tumors of the appendix have a five-year survival rate of 67-97 percent, but once the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the five-year survival is very low.

Early localized appendiceal cancers rarely cause symptoms, but when the cancer starts to spread, it can cause belly pain, a belly mass, nausea and vomiting, and feeling full as soon as the person starts to eat. The only way to diagnose appendiceal cancer is to cut out a piece of the involved tissue and examine it under a microscope.

Your Appendix Is Useful
I had my appendix removed when I was a child because the doctor told my mother it was a useless organ that might someday become infected and burst to cause horrible problems. More than 300,000 appendectomies are performed each year in the U.S., which means that about one in 20 adults have had their appendix removed.

Now researchers have found that the appendix has a function that may be important for you. The lymphatic tissue in the appendix is different from lymphatic tissue in other parts of your gut in that it may stimulate your immunity to grow beneficial healthful bacteria there (Nature Immunology, 2016;17:179–186; Comptes Rendus Palevol, Jan 2017;16(1):39-57). The appendix serves as a safe storage area that can help to replenish your colon with beneficial bacteria to replace those that are lost when you take a course of antibiotics or when harmful bacteria invade your colon and cause diarrhea. Researchers are trying to mimic what the appendix can do by treating people with fecal transplants to give them other people’s good bacteria. This experimental technique is being tried as a possible treatment for many different diseases.

Healthful and Harmful Bacteria in Your Colon
Good bacteria are those that colonize your colon but do not try to penetrate its lining to get into your bloodstream. The good bacteria break down food to release nutrients so they can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Bad bacteria try to invade the inner lining of your colon and get into your bloodstream, which stimulates your immune system and causes it to be active all the time. This is called inflammation that can cause diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, allergies, auto immune diseases, certain cancers, and inflammatory bowel disease (Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther, Apr 2010;8(4):435–454). However, some studies suggest that having had the appendix removed may reduce risk for developing Parkinson’s disease later in life (Sci Transnational Medicine, Oct 31, 2018;10(465).

The appendix has far more lymphoid tissue than the rest of the first part of the colon (Nature Immunology, 2016;17:179–186). This suggests that the appendix has greater immunological activity than the rest of your colon to protect you from harmful bacteria, and could be better able than the rest of the colon to get rid of the bad bacteria that try to get into your bloodstream. Therefore, the appendix most likely serves as a “safe house” for helpful gut bacteria. A diet that includes lots of leafy green vegetables has been shown to increase colon lymphoid tissue, reducing symptoms of inflammation in asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis (Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther, Apr 2010;8(4):435–454).

What Your Appendix Can Do For You

  • Cancer of the appendix is extremely rare.
  • A healthy appendix should not be removed just because it is there, because your appendix may help to protect you by storing healthful bacteria.
  • If you lose many of your good colon bacteria from an infection or from taking antibiotics, you will still have some of the good healthful bacteria stored in your appendix. When you stop taking the antibiotic or when your infection is gone, the good bacteria can move quickly from your appendix into your colon where they can multiply and replace the ones that were lost.

Adan Canto
December 5, 1981 – January 8, 2024