Chadwick Boseman’s death spotlights colon cancer in African Americans

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – More people are concerned about the risks of colon cancer after on-screen superhero, Chadwick Boseman, lost his battle to colon cancer last Friday at the age of 43.

Doctors believe he was very young to have had colon cancer, but his age and diagnosis aren’t unfamiliar to the African-American community.

According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common among African Americans. Colon cancer, also called, colorectal cancer kills this group at higher rates than any other ethnicity.

Research shows, African-Americans have the lowest colorectal screening grates. As a result, this group has a higher risk of dying from the disease.

Dubbing colon cancer as a silent killer, gastroenterologist, Dr. Lacie Edmison with McLeod Health, explained how the recommended screening age was 50 for most people, but 45 for the African American community.

“African-Americans were always age 45 actually, and then we started seeing it so much in younger people that now everybody is age 45,” she said.

She calls it a silent killer because it’s likely to not notice symptoms until the late stages of the disease. Rectal bleeding, anemia, change in bowel habits, and unexpected weight loss are some common signs of colon cancer.

An eye opener for some, Dr. Edmison said knowing your family history with colon cancer and getting regular screenings play a crucial role in decreasing the risk of colon cancer.

“We go in and we look for any concerning polyps or growth that can turn into colon cancer and we remove them before they have the chance to turn into something more serious,” she said.

Dr. Edmison stressed how colon cancer is 90% preventable, if detected early.

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