Experts say Black Americans should be tested for colon cancer earlier

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- People across the country are mourning the death of actress Natalie Desselle Reid who recently died of colon cancer. Actor Chadwick Boseman, who was just 43, died of the same disease back in August.

Their deaths are now shedding light on the steady rise in colon cancer rates among Black people.

In Houston, John Sanders got tested for colon cancer in his early 50's, but says he didn't get tested again until he was 75. Doctors found a polyp which led them to perform surgery.

Thankfully, doctors were able to remove it before it became cancerous. John and his wife Brenda, are now spreading the message of early detection.

"Because my husband is 75, he was right in the age where the older you get, the possibility of you having polyps and then becoming cancerous is much greater. So, what we're saying is that, African-Americans need to get tested because so many of our people don't get screened, they don't go to the doctors office for their check ups and for other health issues. By the time they find the colon cancer, it's often too late," she said.

According to the Society of Gastroenterology, African-Americans have a 15 to 20 percent higher rate of dying from colon cancer than other races in the nation. ABC13 also spoke to Sander's doctor.

Colorectal surgeon Bidhan Das with UT Physicians/UThealth said the research in colon cancer within the Black community is steadily changing because more people are dying, and dying younger.

"This is a very treatable and curable disease when discovered early. But, there are nuances to African-American colon cancer that they were just not understanding to begin with. One of the biggest nuances is that screening should begin at 45 in African-American populations, not 50," said Das.

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