Black Americans Warned of Increased Colon Cancer Risks After Chadwick Boseman's Death

Black Americans are disproportionately diagnosed with colorectal cancer and dying of it younger than people of other ethnicities, a doctor has warned following the death of Chadwick Boseman.

The Black Panther actor died aged 43 after privately battling the disease, also known as colon cancer, for four years, his family said.

In an appearance on CNN, Dr. Richina Bicette said Boseman's death highlights the fact that "health disparities in America as it relates to race and ethnicity have very little to do with socioeconomic status or education level."

Dr. Bicette said: "We are seeing that African Americans are disproportionately being diagnosed with, and dying from, colorectal cancer at earlier ages than other ethnicities."

Black Americans are disproportionately diagnosed with and dying from colorectal cancer at earlier ages than other ethnicities, according to emergency medical physician Dr. Richina Bicette. She discusses some warning signs after Chadwick Boseman’s death.

— CNN (@CNN) August 29, 2020

She also warned that African Americans were being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at later stages, when the disease is "already very aggressive."

"What we as a medical community have to push our focus toward is early screening for those that require it, symptom recognition which means educating our patients and making sure that we are screening for these things aggressively," she said.

Dr. Bicette said warning signs of colorectal cancer could include unexplained abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss and changes to your stools.

She also paid tribute to Boseman as a "visionary" who was a great role model for young Black boys and girls.

"I am deeply saddened to hear about the untimely passing of Chadwick Boseman," she said.

"Chadwick was a visionary, a true hero and someone that is the definition of a role model. He was culturally aware enough not to take roles that would reinforce negative stereotypes of African Americans in this country.

"Chadwick allowed little Black boys and Black girls to see themselves as kings, as queens, as superheroes and I would be remiss if I did not highlight his legacy and the fact that he is a true cultural icon."

Her comments come after the Colorectal Cancer Alliance released a statement saying awareness and education surrounding colorectal cancer is "hampered by an intense stigma."

— Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) August 29, 2020

Tributes expressing shock and sadness poured in late Friday after Boseman's family announced his death in a statement posted on the actor's Twitter account.

They revealed that Boseman had been diagnosed with colon cancer at stage 3 in 2016—and had battled it for four years as it progressed to stage 4.

Boseman had never spoken publicly about his diagnosis, but while his acting career boomed, he was privately undergoing "countless surgeries and chemotherapy," the family's statement said.

"A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much," his family added. "It was the honor of his career to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther."

Boseman died at his home with his wife and family by his side, the statement added.

In his work, Boseman had portrayed Black American icons like Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding worldwide fame after taking on the lead role in Marvel's Black Panther, the first major studio superhero movie featuring a predominately African American cast.

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. The actor's family said he died on Friday after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images