Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman's death highlights growing cancer risk for young people

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Monday, August 31, 2020
Black Panther star's death highlights cancer risk in young people
Chadwick Boseman's death highlights a risk that impacts young people at much higher rates now than in previous decades.

HOUSTON, Texas -- Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman's, death at just 43 years old due to colon cancer highlights a risk that is affecting young people at much higher rates now than in previous decades.

Colorectal surgeon Dr. Erik Askenasy said he's seen colon cancer diagnoses shock people in the prime of their life.

"We're finding it more often in younger people. It used to be a disease of 60, 70-year-old people," he said. "It's devastating, actually. When you have 38-year-olds or 44-year-olds come into your office with young kids, and they have anywhere from stage one to [colon cancers] or rectal cancers, it's pretty bad."

Askenasy said these types of cancer are dangerous because symptoms often don't develop until the disease is already in advanced stages.

There are many risk factors, including having a close relative whose had these cancers. Anyone can get it though, even a superhero.

"This type of disease is like, 'Hey, are you a human being? I'm going for you,'" he said.

While there are promising treatments, Askenasy emphasizes early detection is important.

"Obviously, maintaining an appropriate weight, [decreasing] the number of red meats in your diet, but again, these relative risk factors aren't that powerful," he said. "The best thing you can do is get yourself screened."

The American Cancer Society previously recommended colon cancer screening for people over 60, but with rates climbing, they now recommend screenings for those with average risk starting at age 45 and even earlier for people who have a family history of colon cancer.

"This type of disease is like, 'Hey, you're a human being, I'm going for you.'" Press play to hear a health expert discuss how colon cancer rates are increasing in young people and what you can do to take action.

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