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Death of Actor Chadwick Boseman Brings Awareness to Colon Cancer Among Black Men

Publication: KFDX-TV (NBC, Wichita Falls)
09/02/2020

Actor Chadwick Boseman’s death has brought heightened awareness to colon cancer among Black men, and Texoman medical professionals are reminding Black men to check with their doctors about well checks.

Several medical agencies recommend colonoscopies at age 45-years-old, but since Boseman died from the disease at 43, oncologists are pushing Black men to get tested sooner.

Texas Oncology physician Dr. Brian Kent Ulrich said there is no known reason why colon cancer affects Black men the most. If it affects someone younger than 45-years-old, like Boseman, it is usually an advanced stage of cancer.

Since Boseman’s death, many in the Texoma community are hurting, and one Texoman said they are having “the same reaction when Kobe Bryant died.

“I was shocked, I was hurt,” Wichita Falls resident Torrance Harris said. “It was a shock to everybody.”

Harris is among the many people that were shocked at the news of the death of actor Chadwick Boseman. But to know that Boseman died from a four-year-long battle with colon cancer at the age of 43, it affected harris a little differently.

“About a couple of years ago I had some stomach issues, and I went to my doctor, and he referred me to a specialist,” Harris said. “After some blood work and everything, they wanted to do a colonoscopy appointment. Whenever he said that I was like ‘I’m 29-years-old. That’s way too young for me to have a colonoscopy.'”

While Harris had no issues with his colon, the American Cancer Society states colon cancer incidents are higher among Black men than in all men.

“It appears that the risk of getting colon cancer young Black men 20% higher than in Caucasians,” Ulrich said. “Unfortunately are much more likely to present with advanced disease. That’s a double hit on them.”

Ulrich also said there is no known reason why colon cancer affects Black men the most. However, in the wake of Boseman’s death, Ulrich and Harris will use this time to urge Black men to go to their doctor.

“That may well be the brightest light in this tragic death of a brilliant young man. It can call attention to the disease and call attention to it being an evolving increasing problem in young people,” Ulrich said.

“We have this notation that we don’t want to go to the doctor because they [are] going find something when we need to have that opposite mindset and go to the doctor,” Harris said. “If they do find something, we can catch it early and take care of it and move on.”

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