In honor of National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating the disease, is teaming up with celebrities, including TV and radio personality Charlamagne tha God, for a campaign called “They Didn’t Say” to bring attention to the disparities affecting the Black community and colon cancer, which tragically took the life of Actor Chadwick Boseman.
According to research from the American Cancer Society, Black Americans are about 20% more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer and 35% are more likely to die from it. Despite the alarming statistics, many in the community will not prioritize getting screened due to certain stigmas, lack of awareness, and healthcare inequities.
“Too many of us have had friends or family that have been affected by colorectal cancer, so it’s important for me to speak out and help eliminate any embarrassment surrounding colorectal cancer screening,” explains Charlamagne tha God. “Hopefully this campaign will lead to more important conversations, screening and access to resources to help prevent this disease from further affecting our communities.”
Other influential voices making an impact in the #TheyDidntSay high-impact campaign include TV and podcast host Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins, DJ and director Vashtie, and award-winning photographer Mel D. Cole. As ambassadors, they are each using their platforms to share personal testimonials, boost education and awareness about this cause. The overall mission is to amplify the conversation amongst real people, of all ages, and emphasize the realities about how fatal “The Preventable Cancer” truly is.
The campaign is also combating the misconception that colon cancer only affects people later in life. In fact, young-onset colorectal cancer continues to be on the rise. Rates for people under 55 increased 15% since 2000 and there will be a projected 90% increase in cases for those under age 35 by 2030. This information prompted the recent lowering of the minimum screening age from 50 to 45 and still, nearly 1 in 3 eligible Americans has not been screened. However, there is some good news. If caught and treated early, colon cancer has a 90% survival rate.
The Alliance is also acting with urgency to address the healthcare inequities that are contributing to the high mortality rate. “There are many barriers to colorectal cancer screening that contribute to the disproportionate incidence and mortality rates among the Black community, including access,” explains Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. He says “We believe that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare, regardless of zip code, race, income and insurance status.”
To find out if you qualify for a free colorectal cancer screening, contact the Colorectal Cancer Alliance helpline at 877-422-2030 or complete the online screening survey at quiz.getscreened.org.