Greg Leakes, Atlanta businessman and husband of Real Housewives of Atlanta’s most notable cast member Nene Leakes passed away Sept. 1, after a three-year fight against colon cancer.
—And it’s been a little over a year since actor Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer. The event shook many to their core for several reasons. First, Boseman had just risen to fame as the star of “Black Panther.” He would only enjoy his newly-earned status as an actor for two years until passing away. But what really added weight to the event was that Boseman had become a role model for Black youth, depicting the first mega Black superhero. It represented a positive shift in culture and the media. Seeing a man who represented all of that strength – who played a literal superhero – die so young was almost too much to process. Then, the even more shocking news came out: Boseman had been silently battling cancer for four years – including during the filming of “Black Panther.”
Boseman died at 43 years old from colon cancer, but he’d been diagnosed at age 39. When it was discovered, the cancer was already at stage three, meaning it had penetrated the intestinal walls. While the event was very emotional for the world, it also served as a shocking wakeup call regarding colon cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that colon cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in the US and is one of the leading cancers in cancer-related deaths. While deaths and cases in older adults have dropped in recent decades, there’s been a rise in cases in young adults, says the American Cancer Society. Let’s take this anniversary of the late Chadwick Boseman to learn about colon cancer prevention.
Understanding colon cancer screenings
One reason cases in older adults have dropped substantially in recent decades is that more people are getting screened for colon cancer as a preventative measure. Colon cancer begins as precancerous polyps in the colon. These polyps can live for years there without presenting symptoms. A colorectal cancer screening can find these polyps and remove them before they have the chance to develop into cancer. Screening can also find colon cancer at an early stage when it’s easiest to treat. In this way, colon cancer is preventable. The National Cancer Institute says that, when cancer has been contained to the bowel, surgery has a 50 percent success rate in curing colon cancer.