Boseman’s death puts colon cancer in spotlight | Daily News


Boseman’s death puts colon cancer in spotlight

‘Wakanda Forever’: Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman
‘Wakanda Forever’: Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman

US: Actor Chadwick Boseman’s death from colon cancer at the age of 43 has highlighted the growing rate of this disease among younger adults, who are often diagnosed at later stages.

According to Kimmie Ng, director of Dana-Farber’s Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center in Boston, it shows how important it is for more research into what is driving the rise, as well as greater awareness and screening.

“We are losing way too many young lives to this disease without a clear understanding of what the causes are,” she told AFP.

The suspicion is that environmental factors, such as shifts in diets and lifestyle, could be behind the increase.

While studies are underway, US statistics are alarming, and the trend is similar in Europe.

Since 1994, US cases of young-onset colorectal cancer -- defined as a diagnosis before the age of 50 -- have increased by 50 percent.

Colorectal cancers will affect more than 140,000 Americans in 2020, with under-50s accounting for about 11 percent of colon cancers and 18 percent of rectal cancers.

By the year 2030 the rates among this age group are expected to double and quadruple, respectively.

As a result, the American Cancer Society recently updated its advice, saying most people should get screened at 45, not 50.

Symptoms to watch for include changes to bowel habits that last more than a few days, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrow stool.

They also include feelings of having to pass stool that don’t go away by doing so, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue and weight loss.

Ng emphasized it is critical to catch growths early and to consider screening even earlier than 45 if there is family history of colon cancer or advanced polyps.

African Americans like Boseman are at higher risk than other groups, for reasons linked to disparities in access to care.

Colonoscopies are considered the gold standard of screening, but their invasive nature can discourage some people.

For this reason, Ng’s center is working on what it hopes will be the next generation of blood and stool tests that might catch growths sooner.

Ultimately though, “the best screening test is the screening test that gets done,” she said.

“If somebody is having symptoms concerning colon cancer, they need to seek medical attention,” she added. - AFP

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