Disparities may affect colorectal cancer outcomes among Blacks

Actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for his title role in the movie “Black Panther,” died from colon cancer on August 28, 2020. His death at age 43 reflects a rise in colorectal cancer rates among young adults, and among Blacks in particular, according to an August 31, 2020 opinion piece in STAT.

The authors—including Yamicia Connor, a Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Minority Health Policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—noted that Blacks have the highest rates of colorectal cancer incidence and death across all racial groups in the U.S., and that disparities in screening guidelines and research may be partly to blame.

The likelihood of survival from colorectal cancer increases if it’s detected early, the authors wrote. But recommendations vary for when Black people should begin screening. And there’s evidence that both physicians and patients may not be aware of the inconsistent recommendations for Black individuals, or that these recommendations may differ from those for white people, they said.

“We must address inadequate knowledge of colon cancer symptoms among younger people, particularly in Black communities, and improve awareness of screening guidelines among these individuals and their health care providers,” the authors wrote.

Read the STAT article: Did disparities kill the king of Wakanda? Chadwick Boseman and changing landscape of colon cancer demographics