The death of Chadwick Boseman inspiring one reporter, Nicholas St. Fleur to take action.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the U.S., so St. Fleur decided to show just how easy and important it is to get prevention screenings.
“My mother had colon cancer at the age of 34. So I knew that I was at a higher risk to develop the disease myself,” said St. Fleur. “So once I saw that Chadwick Boseman passed away from colon cancer, it really kind of sparked me. And it made me realize I need to be more serious about this, about getting checked myself.”
Nicholas documented his colon cancer screening from start to finish.
“I wanted to help fight or combat any stigma associated with it because it is such a personal part of your body and it is something that many people don’t want to go through because they might find it scary.”
Doctors are seeing a spike in colon cancer rates among young adults. And currently screenings are recommended starting at age 45, and younger if you are at higher risk like St Fleur.
“It is going to become the top leading cause of cancer death in people aged 20 to 49 by the year 2030,” said Dr. Kimmie Ng, Director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “There is a stigma around talking about colorectal cancer and some of the symptoms that may be associated with colorectal cancer. So my hope is that the conversation around this cancer becomes more normalized and that people understand what a prevalent cancer this is”
The cancer is even more prevalent for black Americans, with a 20 percent higher chance of getting colorectal cancer and 40 percent more likely to die from it than other groups.
“I knew i had a family history, but i didn’t realize that as a black man, you know, i was at higher risk as well,” said St. Fleur.
“The social environment in which you have to your race plays itself out and ultimately leads itself into affecting your actual health outcomes,” said Dr. Ugo Iroku, a gastroenterologist with New York Gastroenterology Associates.
Experts say catching it early is the key to survival
“The screening tests are very effective and they are actually not that bad. It is also important to convey that there are very easy at home tests that can also be done and that are very easy to do,” said Dr. Kimmie Ng.