Over the weekend, the news of Chadwick Boseman’s sudden death disrupted social media with many mourning the loss of the Black Panther actor. In a statement released from his team on his social media, Boseman died after battling colon cancer for four years in secret. The cause of his death has now sparked new conversations about colon cancer rates within the Black community, specifically Black men.
According to a report from the American Cancer Society, Black people have the highest rates of colon cancer of any racial-ethnic group in the country, with men having a 30% higher chance of diagnosis than women. One in 23 men will be diagnosed with the illness in their lifetime.
“Overall, Black individuals are about 20% more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die,” said Rebecca L. Siegel, the American Cancer Society’s scientific director of surveillance research to ABC News. “We’re expecting about 50,000 deaths from colorectal cancer this year in the U.S., overall.”
When asked about the cause of the high rates within the Black community, many doctors still are searching for those answers. “I wish I had an answer for that, I think, you know, there is a lot of research that is going into trying to answer that question,” says Dr. Brooke Glessing, medical director of Endoscopy for University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center to News 5 Cleveland.
“We do know that in the United States that African Americans have a higher incidence of both colon polyps and being diagnosed with colon cancer.”