On August 28, 2020, actor Chadwick Boseman died at the age of 43 from colon cancer. He had been diagnosed in 2016.
Below, Steven J McClane, MD, FACS, FASCRS, Head of the Division of Colorectal Surgery and Co-Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, shares his comments on this impact of this news.
The great majority of colorectal cancer is found in people over 50, however, the incidence in younger people, such as Mr Boseman, has been steadily increasing over recent years, for unclear reasons, an alarming trend. Everyone, regardless of sex or race, should begin screening for colorectal cancer no later then 45 years of age. If someone has a family history of colon cancer or a concerning sign or symptom, such as rectal bleeding, anemia or a recent change in bowel habits, then they should speak to their health care provider about getting testing at an even earlier age.
In African Americans, the incidence of colon cancer is higher in all age groups, compared to caucasians, stressing the importance of adhering to published and recommended guidelines, and not ignoring any concerning signs or symptoms, in this group.
By following screening recommendations, and getting a colonoscopy before a symptom develops, colon cancer can be prevented, or at the very least, be diagnosed at an earlier age, leading to a significant improvement in survival.
We once again all mourn the tragic death of Mr Boseman, but hopefully, public awareness of his disease and his struggles will lead others to seek earlier testing and treatment and ultimately lead to lives saved.