Death of Chadwick Boseman raises awareness for colon cancer screenings

Published: Aug. 30, 2020 at 1:55 PM CDT
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EL DORADO, Kan. (KWCH) - In just 43 years, Chadwick Boseman made a long-lasting impact around the world. Even right here in Wichita.

“He has inspired a lot of kids like me,” said sixth grader Jeremiah Guillot. “I can’t explain it, he was just great playing the role of Jackie Robinson.”

Boseman played the lead role in Black Panther, the first high-profile Black Marvel superhero. He also played Jackie Robinson in 42.

Boseman secretly battled colon cancer for four years after his 2016 diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer disproportionately effects the Black community, as they have the highest rates of colon cancer of any racial group in the United States.

“Particularly in African American men, as high as one in 40 in that group will have colon cancer in their lifetime,” said Jeanette Weiser, a nurse practitioner at Susan B Allen Memorial Hospital in El Dorado. “Some of the reasons behind this are the lack of activity, a change in diet, the high processed foods we’re eating and the lack of access to healthcare.”

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both black men and women. Death rates are 47% higher in black men and 34% higher in Black women. New research shows doctors are seeing more cases in younger adults, and that screenings should begin at 45-years-old in African Americans and even earlier if there is family history or existing symptoms.

“Early screenings are crucial, it should be part of your routine health care coming into your doctor once a year and discussing your health concerns,” said Weiser. “Colonoscopies are recommended, but there is an at home colorectal cancer screening kit that can mailed to your house that can be processed and sent back.”

According to the American Cancer Society, symptoms and signs of colon cancer include a change in bowl habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days, a feeling you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so, rectal bleeding, dark stools or blood in the stool, cramping or abdominal pain, weakness and fatigue and unintended weight loss.

Symptoms often only appear after the cancer has grown or spread, so it’s best to be tested before ever having symptoms through yearly screenings.

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