Death of Chadwick Boseman brings awareness to colon cancer and screenings

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Actor Chadwick Boseman passed away from colon cancer on Friday, August 28th. His death is shining a light on colorectal cancer and the importance of prevention.

In Vermont, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women.

Wendy Matthews is the Executive Director for Community Development with the American Cancer Society in Southern and Western Vermont.” Our hearts go out to the Boseman family. It’s a devastating loss, but it serves as a reminder of the importance of colorectal screening,” said Matthews.

Matthews said it’s important to talk with your doctor about colorectal screenings. In 2018 the American Cancer Society changed the recommendation of regular screenings from 50 to 45.

“Folks should talk with their doctor to really determine what is the best time and the best test for them. There are very simple tests that can be done at home, but really the best test is the one that gets done,” said Matthews.

Boseman was in his late thirties when he was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Dr. Kimmie Ng , the director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center said, “Clearly the recommendations to even start at 45 are not sufficient because it wouldn’t have caught patients like Chadwick Boseman.”

According to the CDC,  colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the U.S. In Vermont, Matthews said about 270 residents are estimated to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2020.

Sadly a little less than half will cecum to the disease according to Mathews. She said it’s all about early detection and colorectal cancer can be 95% curable by prevention.

Things like genes or family history, diet, and physical activity can be risk factors.

“Diet and nutrition, getting proper exercise. The American cancer society has guidelines around healthy and active living that will greatly reduce your risk of colorectal and a number of different cancers,” said Matthews.

Although the death rate has dropped over the years, The American Cancer Society said deaths from colorectal cancer among people younger than age 55 have increased 1% per year from 2008 to 2017. Scientists are continuing research on causes and prevention.

For more statistics on colon cancer, click here.

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