ROCHESTER, NY (WROC)— Actor Chadwick Boseman fought colon cancer for several years before his passing, and now, a doctor at Rochester regional health gave us some insight into just what this disease is and how you can prevent it.
Colorectal cancer is a disease that severely impacts the black community and screening for the disease is crucial for preventing the cancer or catching it early on.
As the community mourns the passing of Chadwick Boseman, many are hearing about colorectal cancer for the first time.
“It was really devasting and actually it was very surprising I didn’t even know he was battling with colon cancer, said Rahkemm Dickerson.
“I think it’s something people overlook, a topic people don’t really get into,” said Abdul Wadud.
Colorectal Cancer attacks the colon or rectum in the large intestine, sometimes spreading to other parts of the body.
It is the third most common cancer in black men and women according to the American cancer society. In fact, rates of colorectal cancer are 24-percent higher in black males compared to white.
Dr. Patrick Okolo, a gastroenterology specialist at Rochester Regional Health, says many factors, including the environment and genetics, contribute to this.
“The effect also of socioeconomic stress in this country,” said Dr. Okolo. “So when you add this plus that genetic propensity it’s a bit of a whirlwind, a bit of a windstorm that is unfavorable for African Americans.”
Dr, Okolo says the disease is more severe for African American and can come earlier, which is why he recommends colonoscopy testing around age 45 for the disease, 5 years earlier than other races.
“So many of us believe that if you can get people to go to a colonoscopy then you can get both diagnosis and the action to save the course of action to save disease all at the same time,” Dr. Okolo.
Dr. Okolo says the disease can start off in a stealth manner and can be living in you with no symptoms until later stages, so don’t wait for symptoms, but assess your risk based on your age.