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Colon cancer becoming more prevalent in young people

After actor Chadwick Boseman died at age 43 from colon cancer, advocacy groups are pushing for people to get screened at younger ages than before.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Actor Chadwick Boseman had been privatively dealing with colon cancer for years before he died on Friday, August 31.

Boseman is best known for playing the titular role in the superhero movie the Black Panther. He was battling the disease while still filming movies.

RELATED: 'Black Panther' star Chadwick Boseman dies after 4-year cancer battle

Boseman was just 43 years old.

UofL Associate Professor Dr. Russ Farmer says its not unheard of that Boseman still appeared healthy.

“They could potentially have surgery, recovery, be on treatment for chemotherapy, be on a surveillance protocol and still be exceptionally healthy and fit through all of those things,” Dr. Farmer said. 

Colon cancer is becoming much more prevalent in young people than it was a decade ago.

Anyone born after 1990 is six times more likely than their parents to get color or rectal cancer in their lifetimes.

Perhaps the scariest part is the unknown.

“Young people are getting colon and rectal cancer and we don’t know why,” Dr. Farmer said.

Cancer advocacy groups have been trying to decrease the recommended age for screening from 45 to 40 for the African American community, where the disease is more frequent, and from 50 to 45 in other groups.

Some of the symptoms include change in the way your GI tract functions, constipation, or blood when you use the bathroom.

People might avoid getting screened because it’s a taboo thing to talk about.

“People are getting diagnosed late because they either didn’t speak to their physician or were too afraid to speak to their physician about something that they noticed,” Dr. Farmer said.    

Dr. Farmer encourages people to get screened. It might just save your life.

People can schedule screenings with one of these providers:

RELATED: Why you shouldn't wait to get a colonoscopy

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