The recent death of Chadwick Boseman highlights the need for earlier screening in colorectal cancer, especially for young people.
Though the disease typically affects older adults, the recent death of Chadwick Boseman due to colorectal cancer (CRC) brought to light the fact that it is being found more often in younger adults, despite the traditional screening age, which is 50 years old, according to Dr. Mark Lewis of Intermountain Health.
In an interview with CURE®, Lewis, who is a cancer survivor himself, went on to explain that while the average age of his patients is around 68 years, there are an increasing number of cases of CRC being found in younger patients who wouldn’t fall into the typical screening age range. And in the case of Boseman’s death, Lewis concludes that Boseman’s death highlighted the disparities faced by not just by younger patients with CRC, but those in the Black community as well.
It just resonated so much with me because, you know, I think to lose a young and seemingly vibrant celebrity like that really brings to the forefront, something that we've seen now for a while, statistically, which is an upsurge in young-onset colorectal cancer, and as you pointed out before, the traditional age of screening, which is 50.
So, just to be clear about the demographics, this is still a disease that largely affects older adults. And we'll get into why that is, but it largely has to do with polyps and how long they're present and how long it takes for them to degenerate. So, the average age of my colorectal cancer patients in my practice, and I'm in the youngest state in the nation, which is Utah, the average age of those patients is 68. As you said, there's this increasingly substantial and worrisome minority for having a disease at a young age, and certainly an age before which they've traditionally been screened.
And so, Chadwick Boseman, unfortunately, I think has become sort of the face of this demographic, which disproportionately affects the African American community. So not only does he fit the demographic by age, he actually also fits it by ethnicity.