Black Americans less likely to receive treatment, have higher death rates from colon cancer: study

Chadwick Boseman's death from colon cancer has put a renewed spotlight on the illness

Last month, millions across the world were stunned when news broke that Chadwick Boseman had died of colon cancer at the young age 43. Now a new study has found that Black Americans are actually much more likely to die of colorectal cancer due to a lack of proper treatment.

According to Yahoo, a study published today in JAMA Network Open, concluded that Black patients were the least likely to undergo life-saving surgery or chemotherapy.

Chadwick Boseman
(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAACP )

READ MORE: My husband died of colon cancer. He and Chadwick Boseman aren’t alone

Researchers from the City of Hope National Medical Center in California recently conducted a study on 16,382 patients with colon cancer in an effort to pinpoint exactly why Black Americans are disproportionately at risk of dying from the disease.

Although the disease is largely treatable at stages 1 and 2, Boseman was diagnosed with stage 3 and succumbed to the illness in late August after a private four-year battle.

Unfortunately, the prolific actor’s case isn’t atypical. African Americans are disproportionately diagnosed at later, hard-to-treat stages, which has led to an ongoing racial divide in colon cancer mortality rates in the U.S.

READ MORE: Lance Gross on Chadwick Boseman’s death and Black health

After thoroughly analyzing the data, researchers concluded these bleak statistics all stemmed from a systemic lack of access to care. Black patients are 10% less likely overall to have life-saving treatment for colorectal cancer and also 17% more likely to die than white peers.

Dr. Lucas Thornblade, City of Hope surgical oncology fellow and first author of the study, said the disparity “could be attributed to factors such as lower rate of referral to cancer specialists, late detection of colorectal cancer metastases and patient-reported barriers, including fear of cancer and its treatment, costs, and the burdens of transportation and childcare during therapy.” 

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