(Photo Credits: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA)
It’s been a few days now since the news regarding 43-year-old Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman’s passing last August 28 following a four-year battle with colon cancer shook the world.
And now everybody is asking: what in the world is colon cancer?
Reportedly, colorectal cancer—which can also be called “colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start”—is the third most common cancer in men and women (with the exception of skin cancer) and the second leading cause of cancer deaths.
Further, this article noted that “the rate of new colorectal cancer cases has been rising in younger individuals” these past ten years or so although it is “still relatively uncommon in this age group.” Read more about colorectal cancer by the numbers here and here.
According to Mayo Clinic, colon cancer is “a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (colon). The colon is the final part of the digestive tract.”
Mayo Clinic added that colon cancer can develop at any age though it “typically affects older adults.” Additionally, their website said that colon cancer “usually begins as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. Over time some of these polyps can become colon cancers.”
But when should we get screened for colon cancer? In the video provided by Mayo Clinic shown above, they said that their team prefers to screen patients before they show symptoms.
A doctor who posted a reminder on social media was more specific in that if we have a family history, then we must be screened for colon cancer at age 40 or earlier. On the other hand, it should be at age 45 or 50 for those who don’t have family history.
Family history simply means that at least one of our immediate family members like our parent, sibling, or child was diagnosed with colon cancer. If this is the case, then this puts us at increased risk for colon cancer.
2/#ChadwickBoseman was full of grace & strength, keeping this devastating secret from public as he braved chemotherapy & other treatments to battle this disease. Pls understand that the age of onset in his case is unusually young, but we do see #coloncancer more often in Blacks— Fola May, MD PhD (@drfolamay) August 29, 2020
4/— Fola May, MD PhD (@drfolamay) August 29, 2020
Unfortunately we are seeing this horrible disease in young adults now. But we are able to cure colon cancer if we find it early.
Regardless of age, you MUST have a colonoscopy if experiencing symptoms (blood in stool, rectal pain, change in stools, weight loss) AT ANY AGE.
However, if a person is exhibiting symptoms at any age, then they must get their colonoscopy now! Very briefly, colonoscopy is simply colon cancer screening. Mayo Clinic’s video, which we provided above, shows us what they’re looking for and how it is done.
Anyway, apart from age and family history, there are other factors that may increase a person’s risk of colon cancer such as a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, obesity, low-fiber, high-fat diet, and smoking, among many others. And did you know that African-Americans have a “greater risk of colon cancer than do people of other races?” Read the risk factors in detail here.
But what are the symptoms of colon cancer that we must look out for? Mayo Clinic listed the following and we quote:
- A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises us to change our lifestyle in order to reduce our risk of colon cancer.
One way of doing this is to change our diet and maintain a healthy weight. Ideally, it must be a diet “low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains” according to their website. They also reminded us to increase our physical activity (meaning, we must exercise for at least 30 minutes for 5 or more days a week), limit alcohol consumption, and to stop smoking.
Moreover, this page owned by American Cancer Society (ACS) talks about all things cancer so if there’s something you want to know other than colon cancer you can browse through their website.
You can even call ACS at 800.227.2345 if you have questions and they also provided a live chat feature on their website if that’s what you prefer.
Chadwick Boseman rose to fame for playing King T’Challa of Wakanda/Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from 2016 to 2019. He was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 that eventually progressed to stage IV.
Boseman dealt with his colon cancer privately. He reportedly didn’t tell any of his colleagues and he certainly did not disclose his illness to the public which is why the news of his passing came as a shock to everyone.
These past four years since his diagnosis, he made films (a total of 11 films with two unreleased) “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” his family said in a statement.
I’ve watched some of his movies including 21 Bridges (2019)and Da 5 Bloods (2020). I must say that my most favorites are Black Panther (2018)and Gods of Egypt (2016) where he played the character of Thoth.
Adam4Adam would like to take this time to honor Chadwick Boseman for his enduring and relentless spirit that would not surrender, and for his quiet dignity and strength amidst adversity.
Boseman inspired many, particularly the young Black people for showing them that “Black kids can be heroes, too!” But most importantly, he showed that films with predominantly Black casts can be successful in the box office as well.
Black Panther broke boundaries and,as we all know,went on to become the “first superhero film to receive a Best Picture nomination and the first MCU film to win an Academy Award.”
The film also grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide and broke numerous box office records, including the following: “it is the highest-grossing film by an African American director, the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time, the third-highest-grossing film in the U.S. and Canada, and the second-highest-grossing film of 2018.”
Rest in Power, Chadwick Boseman. Thank you for sharing your talent to the world.