Fans and friends of Chadwick Boseman are celebrating his legacy and remembering his life on the one-year anniversary of his death. The actor and playwright was at the peak of his career, before his tragic passing, and had achieved international fame for playing superhero Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) from 2016 to 2019.
In 2016, Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer. He kept his condition private, continuing to act and star in major movies in the industry. Sadly, tragedy struck in 2020 as the news of his demise hit social media. Fans were dumbstruck by this news, and there was a worldwide outcry for the movie legend.
Now, his death has ultimately shed more light on colon cancer and the risk it poses in black men. With awareness now on the rise, let’s find out if the Wakanda King’s death was avoidable.
What We Know About Colon Cancer
Statistics have shown that 1 in 23 black males will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime. This probability is slowly increasing over the years as observed by Dr. Ernest Jehangir, a colorectal surgeon at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority.
“We’re beginning to see these cancers in young people and that is one of the lessons that this unfortunate death brings to light, is that we find that people are getting this cancer earlier than before,” Jehangir told the Cayman Compass in 2020.
He further stated that there is a high rate of colon cancer among the African-Caribbean population, and he wants Boseman’s death to spark more interest in people to go for checkups.
“I sincerely hope it will make an impact, and I hope that people will come forward for the screening for cancer,” he said.
Colon cancer typically starts as small clumps of cells (polyps) in the colon that are benign, the Mayo Clinic explains. There are usually no symptoms at first, but over time they modify to become cancerous cells.
As the polyps grow and cancer begins to spread, an infected person may notice symptoms such as an increase in diarrhea or constipation episodes for an abnormal time, or feeling like he/she/they haven’t emptied their bowels completely after going to the bathroom.
The precise symptoms of an individual mostly depend on the size of their cancer and its exact location in the body.
Early Detection Can Save One’s Life
By the time Boseman was diagnosed with the ailment, it had progressed to stage III, which eventually became stage IV before 2020. He only had the possibility of managing it, while knowing that death was imminent.
To avoid this in younger generations, medical checkups should be carried out regularly to check one’s body for irregularity. Colon cancer is reportedly the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S and is on the rise.
A trip to the doctor would involve a colonoscopy which is the most effective way of detecting colon cancer. It entails inserting a long flexible tube, with a camera at the tip, into the rectum to scan for abnormalities throughout the entire colon.
While the procedure may make patients apprehensive (no one really wants a tube pushed into their a**s,) it is key for the detection of cancerous polyps. The colonoscopy takes about 30 to 40 minutes and patients are usually sedated when it is performed.
Why not book that doctor’s appointment today.
Risks and Treatments
Although the exact cause of colon cancer is not yet known, a high fat and low fiber diet is a major predisposition to it. Smoking, alcohol, family history, and advanced age also play a huge role.
More so, chronic inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and inherited gene mutations are also factors that could trigger colon cancer in men and women.
Treatment for colorectal cancer, Jehangir said, is almost entirely surgical, although there may be additional treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“So, once we find the tumor, we will then offer a patient surgery and we usually do the keyhole method… which is a laparoscope,” Jehangir explained.
The cure rate for cancers in stage one is nearly 95%, he said, whereas if it is caught at stage four, there is a less than 5% cure rate.
There are some things a person can do to help forestall the ailment. Awareness of the risk factors for colon cancer, to monitor oneself for any changes in bathroom habits is very important.
Screening for people older than 50 years, those with a family history of colon cancer, drinking alcohol in moderation, healthy eating– fruits and vegetables, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly also reduces the risk on average.
Ultimately, if diagnosed, a person should hope it is only in its early stages as early detection almost ensures survival.
“So, that is the headline figure. If we catch it early, we can treat it well. If you catch it late, then I’m afraid not,” Jehangir concluded.