Colon Cancer awareness rising following Chadwick Boseman’s death

Colon Cancer kills over 50,000 Americans every year. (Photo: Tanner Barth / WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)–Last Friday it was announced that Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman lost his battle with colon cancer after a three year fight. His death is bringing awareness to the cancer all over the country.

“It’s unfortunate that sometimes it takes a death of a famous person to kind of bring things to the fore front,”says Novant Health Gastroenterologist Dr. Scott Itzkowitz.

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Dr. Itzkowitz has over 20 years of experience as a Gastroenterologist at Novant Health in Brunswick County. He says over time it has shown the cancer has began to target younger people every year.

“The unfortunate thing is that it used to be a diagnosis where we thought of older people,”says Itzkowitz. “Over the last 10 to 15 years were actually seeing an increase in instances of this in younger people.”

He says no matter what your age is, there are warning signs you should always keep an eye out for when it comes to colon cancer.

“Symptomatic patients you know are somewhat easier because they seek care more for this, but a lot of times this can be a sign of disease,”Itzkowitz says. “Anybody who has rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, or significant change in bowel habits should discuss this with their primary care physician.”

Screening and colonoscopy’s are becoming more important now than ever. Ana Brown, who set up the Blue Ribbon Run in Wilmington, lost her sister at the age of 41 to colon cancer. She says while the symptoms are never easy to discuss with colon cancer, she hopes this will open the door for more people to talk about what they’re going through with this deadly disease.

“This can be kind of an embarrassing cancer, it’s one that people don’t want to talk about,”Ana Brown says. “But we need to work on lowering that stigma, breaking that barrier of silence knowing that we need to talk about this. It can saves lives and that’s just crucial at this point. Hopefully at this place and time Chadwick’s death is not in vein. This is something that is going to save so many lives because people are talking about a cancer that people don’t feel comfortable talking about.”

If you or someone you know are going through the struggles of colon cancer in the Cape Fear, the Blue Ribbon Run says they are here to help.