‘Black Panther’ actor’s death raises awareness on colon cancer

Hollywood ‘gutted’ by Chadwick Boseman’s death
Posted at 8:17 AM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 08:38:29-04

LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) — Actor Chadwick Boseman’s silent battle with colon cancer and untimely death is sparking loud conversations about awareness and screening.

His story hits home for people like Angela Bowersox, who had her first screening when she was just 20 years old. She’s been battling various other like Crohn’s disease, which is an inflammatory bowel disease, ever since.

“There’s a lot of people that are suffering and it doesn’t show outside of them, so invisible disease, just having a heart of compassion and kindness and empathy for other people and their situations,” said Bowersox.

Bowersox’s doctors caught pre-cancerous masses in her colon and was able to have surgery to remove them.

“Had I not had the first colonoscopy when I was pregnant and diagnosed, I would have died,” said Bowersox. “If you can catch it early like I caught it, it can save your life.”

Doctor Gordon Srkalovic, Director of the Clinical Trials Office and a Physician at Sparrow Herbert-Herman Cancer Center, says trends are showing more people developing colon cancer at a younger age.

“There is evidence that from 2003 to 2013, the number of patients with color cancer younger than 50 raised, went up 22%,” said Srkalovic.

Knowing your risk can help determine if you should get screened earlier than the American Cancer Society recommendation of age 45.

“There is a number of patients who have high risk for colon cancer, particularly if there is someone in the family who had colon cancer at an early age and patients who were found to have polyps or any type of growth in the colon,” said Srkalovic.

He says those patients should actually start screening at age 20.

Srkalovic says early detection is key for the best chance of survival. Therefore, knowing the most common symptoms can help.

“Sometimes abdominal discomfort, but the main thing is really changes in bowel habits and also bleeding,” said Srkalovic.

He added that smoking, alcohol use, low physical activity, obesity, age, and diet can also pose risk for developing the disease.

Around 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer every year. Rates amongst African Americans are higher than any other race or ethnicity in the nation.