When Chadwick Boseman died at 43, two years shy of the recommended colon screening age, Black doctors had hoped it would lead more Black men to get screened for colon cancer.
Doctors say more Black men have gotten screened since the “Black Panther” star’s death, however, there is no quantifiable data for overall screenings of Black men.
Although Boseman’s death shed light on the disease and the need to lower the screening age, which was previously 50, Black people are still 20% more likely to get colon cancer and 40% more likely to die from it, the American Cancer Society notes.
“Most people, when they think of colon cancer, think of someone being old,” Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, an internal medicine physician in Alabama, tells NBC. “You don’t think of someone who was in their early 40s, like Chadwick, definitely not someone who looked as healthy as he did. So, I think it really helps people to wake up to just how easy it is for this particular cancer to be active and do harm in your body without you being aware of it.”
Additionally, Blacks are more likely to have advanced colon cancer, making their life span shorter when diagnosed. These numbers are concerning when you think about the fact that colon cancer is treatable when it is found early.
High rates of colon cancer in the Black community are directly linked to lower rates of screening, structural racism, social determinants of health and difficulty obtaining available treatment, reports show.
Boseman’s death raised awareness in the Black community of the symptoms they should look out for, however, the pandemic caused lower screening numbers. Aside from that, there is a perception that colon cancer screenings are invasive, which deters many Blacks from getting them.
“Chadwick Boseman had this national profile. He was the Black Panther. He obviously raised awareness, but a lot of times in our community,