The death of Chadwick Boseman from colon cancer is causing many people to sound the alarm for earlier screening for colorectal cancers.
According to his family, Boseman, who died at 43, had been undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy for the past four years.
The American Cancer Association reports that cancers of the colon and rectum are the third-most common type in the U.S., after lung and breast cancer, and the second-deadliest for men and women combined.
About 53,200 people are expected to die from colorectal cancers in 2020, and though the death rates have been falling due to earlier detection and better treatment, deaths among people younger than 55 years old have been increasing by 1% each year. Death rates are 47% higher in Black men and 34% higher in Black women.
African Americans are affected with the highest rates of colorectal cancer occurrences and deaths in the United States. Worldwide, Ashkenazi Jews have one of the highest risks of getting colorectal cancer of any ethnic group, according to the ACA.
Risk factors for colon and rectal cancers include obesity, diabetes and smoking, as well as family history and inherited gene conditions.
While it’s usually recommended to begin screening for colorectal cancers at age 45, the American Cancer Society says, “People at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer might need to start colorectal cancer screening before age 45, be screened more often, and/or get specific tests.”
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance shared a statement, saying “His sad and untimely death should not be in vain. Somberly, we share that young-onset colorectal cancer is on the rise and cuts short thousands of lives every year.”
“Cancer is a personal battle, and we respect Bozeman’s choice to shield the public from his diagnosis. The Alliance, however, encourages open conversations about this disease. Even superheroes can develop colorectal cancer.”
Several people also raised the alarm on social media.
Writer and producer Craig Mazin tweeted, “PLEASE get screened. My dad had it, so I get checked every 5 years.”
Chadwick Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer at a tragically early age. He wouldn't have had any reason to screen for it.
If you are 45+, you DO.
PLEASE get screened. My dad had it, so I get checked every 5 years.
Schedule it now. *Please*.https://t.co/swwEruz5bM
— Craig Mazin (@clmazin) August 29, 2020
Football champion and ESPN analyst Damien Woody advised, “To my black men…get your colon screening!”
To my black men….get your colon screening! We are more susceptible to die from colon cancer than any other group
— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) August 29, 2020
“Today” show anchor Craig Melvin said, “Waking up to the Chadwick Boseman news is perhaps the starkest warning yet.”
Waking up to the Chadwick Boseman news is perhaps the starkest warning yet. Colon cancer is absolutely ravaging the community of young Black men in our country and researchers are having a hard time figuring out why. #ripchadwickboseman
— Craig Melvin (@craigmelvin) August 29, 2020