Actor Chadwick Boseman, who rose to world fame for his portrayal of the Marvel hero Black Panther, died at age 43 of colon cancer.
Originally from South Carolina and a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC, Boseman had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years earlier.
The actor and his family, who were with him at the time of his death, maintained discretion about his medical condition and treatments.
Boseman had secretly married Lisa Simone Leward, also a Howard graduate, in October, already knowing that her medical condition was declining.
What is colon cancer?
In the United States, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death. Early diagnosis can often lead to a complete cure.
According to the American Cancer Association, an estimated 104,600 new cases of colon cancer will have been diagnosed in the United States by the end of 2020
There is no single cause for colon cancer. Almost all colon cancers start out as non-cancerous (benign) polyps, which slowly turn into cancer. among the causes that appear as the most frequent are:
- Be over 50 years old
- Be of African American or Eastern European origin
- Eat lots of red or processed meats
- Having colorectal pulps
- Suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease)
- Having a family history of colon cancer
- Smoking and heavy drinking are also risk factors for colon cancer.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
Unlike other cancers, colon cancer has a screening test that can prevent its progression and even cure it. It is the colonoscopy, an exam recommended as one of the main ones on the prevention list after 50 years.
What is a colonoscopy and how is it done?
Colonoscopy is recommended to detect, and eventually remove, polyps, which are masses that can grow in the rectum and colon.
In general, these polyps are usually benign. However, some of them, especially those larger than 1 centimeter, can transform into cancerous tumors.
Colonoscopy is so far the only method that has a high sensitivity to detect all types of polyps, the good and the bad, the largest and the smallest.
Another advantage over other methods – such as virtual colonoscopy – is that the doctor can remove polyps found during the same procedure, or take a sample for a biopsy, avoiding a second intervention.
During the procedure, the patient is sedated, and the doctor uses a flexible tube with a video camera to scan the rectum and colon, to its full extent, for polyps, tumors, and other abnormalities. Between preparation, procedure, and recovery, the entire process takes about two hours.
Not much is known yet about what the process was like for Boseman, if he had a family history or if the disease simply advanced because he was young, he was not in an age range where you can think that your gut is killing you.
The actor in Movie 42, in which he played Jackie Robinson, marked an unprecedented cultural milestone for the African community with Black Panther, playing King T’Challa.
An inspiring role, which he brought to life when he spoke at his college graduation ceremony in 2018: “Purpose is your core element,” Boseman told the graduates. “It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped in the things that are yet to be fulfilled ”.