Doctors, advocates urged communities of color to get screened for colon cancer

The death of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman has thrust the importance of regular colon exams into the spotlight.

The 43-year-old died of colorectal cancer Friday.

Atlanta-area doctors and advocates are calling for more colon cancer screenings for communities of color.

Five-year-old Harper is one of the millions of children across the country mourning the death of the person they recognize as a superhero. Actor Chadwick Boseman played King T’Challa in Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie, among other notable roles.

“It’s incredible that he was able to look up to a superhero who looked like him,” his mother told FOX 5’s Alex Whittler.

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Harper doesn’t quite know what cancer or death means, but his mother, who is a nurse, is turning Chadwick Boseman’s battle with colon cancer into a learning opportunity.

“As long as we get regular checkups, we can prevent it,” she said

The Georgia Department of Public Health listed colorectal cancer as the second leading cancer killer in the state in 2015.

Years later, Dr. Jennifer Christie, with Emory’s cancer institute said data indicates African Americans are more vulnerable to the disease.

“African Americans are 20 percent more likely to get colorectal than white people,” she said.

Key symptoms include:

• Bloody stool

• Changes in bowel movements

• Unintentional weight loss

• Abdominal pain

Doctors don’t know why colorectal cancer rates are increasing in young people, but they said lifestyle changes such as limiting fatty foods and quitting smoking can lessen the chances of colon cancer.

Doctors said with regular screening, such as a colonoscopy, the disease is largely preventable.

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