“We’re seeing more people in their 30s and 40s get colon cancer;” oncologist weighs in after Chadwick Boseman’s death

Oncologist weighs in after Chadwick Boseman’s death

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Tributes continue to pour in for actor Chadwick Boseman, who died after a four year battle with colon cancer, a fight that was never shared with the public.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer for men and women across the United States; a surgical oncologist says testing is key to fighting this disease as soon as possible.

Chadwick Boseman played black icon Jackie Robinson in the movie “42” and James Brown before finding fame as the Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe.

“For him to get casted as multiple icons and live up to expectations or oversee expectations definition says a lot about his passion and drive and just him as a human being,” said Don Flair, Richmond.

He was just 43 years old when he died.

“We’re seeing a lot more people in their 30s and 40s get colon cancer...that population has gone up a lot in the last 10 or 15 years, there’s still not a great reason as to why that’s happening,” said Michael White, a surgical oncologist at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital.

Dr. White with says the symptoms of colon cancer can range.

“The most common thing we see is probably just anemia. So people’s blood counts are low because the colon cancer starts on the inner surface of the colon and it can cause ulceration and bleeding,” he says.

Dr. White says the best screening for colon cancer is a colonoscopy, something he says is crucial and should not be put off, even for COVID.

“The reason we have seen so much of an improvement in the survival with colon cancer is that a lot of times we can prevent the disease from even happening,” he said.

An average risk patient is typically recommended to get their first routine colonoscopy at age 50, but the American Cancer Society actually recommends you get your first at age 45.

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