Fighting Colon Cancer In Black Community

Colon cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States. And, surviving it could depend on your race. African-American men are 44 percent more likely to die from colon cancer than white men, and African-American women, 46 percent more likely to die than white women.

But as CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports, there's an effort underway to even the odds.

An afternoon of Bingo might be fun - but in this case, it's not just a game. The gathering is part of an all-out effort in one Boston community, organized by the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, to make sure the residents aren't gambling with their lives.

"It's time we stop being afraid because we're the ones that's dying from it," says actor Terrence Howard.

Last seen on the silver screen in "Ironman," Howard is today's guest. But he isn't reading from a script -- he's speaking from his heart.

"This has been one of the worst years of my life and I could not call my mother once and ask her, 'Hey mommy, I'm having a hard time right now,'" Howard told the group.

Howard's mother died last fall at the age of 56 from colon cancer.

He's joined forces with the Entertainment Industry Foundation in a nationwide campaign to encourage people to get screened.

"The only way I can find any peace of mind is trying to stop what killed my mother," Howard says.

Half of all colon cancer deaths could be prevented with early detection, Miller reports. A colon cancer screening, or colonoscopy, allows doctors to remove polyps before they become deadly cancers.

Pauline Sheridan had barely heard of the disease, until it killed her mother.

"To be honest with you, I've heard about it, but I just you know how it's one of them things where you say this isn't going to happen to me or my family," Sheridan says.

To try and make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else, Sheridan became a community volunteer, going door-to-door to try and educate her neighbors about protecting themselves.

"I think it does boil down to saving a life," Sheridan says.

African Americans should begin getting screened at age 45, and half of these Bingo players say they've already done so, Miller reports. They're the ones who are playing their cards just right.
By Michelle Miller

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.