Yesterday evening, news of Chadwick Boseman's death broke the internet. Starring in iconic movies like "Black Panther," "Avengers Endgame," "21 Bridges," "42," and more, his passing was caused by colon cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) that he had been battling since 2016. That fact was unknown to almost everyone, which made his passing that much more shocking. He had become a symbol of hope and power for Black communities specifically, and the news of his death seemed to hit too close to home for everyone.
1. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the US
The CDC and American Cancer Society have estimated more than 50,000 Americans die from colon cancer a year, which equals out to be 140 people daily.
2. Colon cancer can be genetic
Individuals with a family history of colon cancer have two to five times more risk of developing colon cancer, which emphasizes the importance of genetic testing at a young age if several people in the family have it.
3. Individuals with colon cancer may feel healthy
Most individuals battling colon cancer may develop no symptoms at all, or more subtle symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, rectal bleeding, weakness, and abdominal pain.
4. Colon cancer affects all ethnicities and both men and women
Even though any ethnicity can get colon cancer, the risk is slightly higher in African Americans. Men tend to get colon cancer at an earlier age, and the risk increases with age.
5. Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers
Procedures to check and remove polyps, growths in the lining of the colon and rectum, has the ability to prevent colon cancer.
6. Adopting healthy habits can decrease the risk of colon cancer
A healthy diet, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, physical activity, and maintaining a normal body weight can all help in decreasing the risk of colon cancer.
7. Other health conditions may increase the risk of colon cancer
Type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and any inherited syndromes, such as Lynch Syndrome, increases the risk of colon cancer.
8. Colonoscopies or other screenings should start at 45 years old
Since polyps tend to develop in people ages 45 and older, experts recommend individuals getting their first colonoscopy at 45.
9. There are different types of screenings
Screening tests include at-home tests, sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, and CT colonography or virtual colonoscopies.
10. Age is the number one risk factor
Usually with risk starting at ages 50 and up, younger people can get colon cancer, as well, although it is less common.
11. Surgery is not the only way to treat colon cancer
Other outlets include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.