“People are being diagnosed younger and younger,” What you need to know about colon cancer

Jacksonville, Fla. — The death of actor Chadwick Boseman now has many people wanting to learn more about colon cancer and if they could be at risk.

The “Black Panther” actor died from Stage 4 colon cancer, at the age of 43, last Friday.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole spoke to a gastroenterologist to get answers about the risk of colon cancer in young people and how soon you should get a colonoscopy.

“People are being diagnosed younger and younger with colon cancer,” said Dr. Jason Ross, a Gastroenterologist at Borland Groover.

According to a statement on his official twitter page, Boseman was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2016.

He had been battling the disease, silently, for four years, as it progressed to Stage 4.

Colon cancer usually begins as a small clump of cells called polyps that form inside of the colon.

Dr. Ross told Action News Jax, over time, polyps can turn into cancer.

“I think screening is getting much better, I think some people are following the guidelines as they are supposed to, so we’re diagnosing his colon cancer earlier and earlier individuals,” Dr. Ross told Action News Jax.

Colonoscopies, the exam was given to detect colon cancer, usually start at age 50.

“Some of the societies are saying the screenings should start at age 45,” said Dr. Ross.

For example, the American Cancer Society recommends regular screening for colon and rectal cancer at age 45.

Dr. Ross called the exam for colon cancer screening, the gold standard.

“We’re able to see the actual polyps while we’re doing the procedure and we can actually remove them during the same procedure.”

According to the American Cancer Society, outside of skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women here in the United States.

The ACS also found that colorectal cancer rates are higher among African-Americans.

“When they’re asymptomatic, that’s the time we want to do it,” Dr. Ross told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

If you don’t have any symptoms, Dr. Ross said you need to take a look at your family history.

“If you have any first-degree family members with colon cancer diagnosed before the age of 60, they really want to start screening at age 40 years older. Or, 10 years prior when their relative was diagnosed.”

Dr. Ross told Action News Jax cutting smoking out of your routine can also decrease your chance of getting the disease.

“Also just watching for the symptoms. Any blood in the stools, weight loss, any signs or symptoms they’re concerned about, talk to their primary care [doctor] and if appropriate then they’ll be referred to a gastroenterologist,” said Dr. Ross.

For more information about Borland Groover and what they’re doing to help fight against the illness, click here.