Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month campaign hosts traveling 12-foot, 113-pound inflatable colon at Intermountain Health hospitals and clinics in Utah and Idaho.
Intermountain Health’s is unique community colorectal cancer awareness campaign, “Let’s Get to the Bottom of Colon Cancer” giant inflatable colon tour, is traveling to 22 hospitals and clinics in Utah and Idaho in 30 days, bringing with it vital awareness about colon cancer and the importance of potentially life-saving screenings.
The inflatable colon tour stopped Monday, March 20, at Intermountain American Fork Hospital. The unique tour is an interactive opportunity for the public to see what it looks like inside a human colon –– not a view many people get to see.
“This is an interactive opportunity for the public to see what the inside of a colon looks like,” said Casey Owens, MD, gastroenterologist at Intermountain American Fork Hospital. “As people walk through the 12-foot, 113-pound inflatable colon, it depicts the different stages of colorectal cancer, starting with the earliest stage of a precancerous colon polyp. We hope this helps educates people about recommended screenings and raise awareness about how to prevent this disease.”
The American Cancer Society estimates more than 153,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, making it the third-most common cancer diagnosed for men and women and the second-leading cause of total cancer-related deaths.
“The giant inflatable colon is definitely a conversation starter. It illustrates how colon cancer develops from polyps and shows how physicians inspect a colon for precancerous polyps,” said Nathan Merriman, MD, medical director of gastroenterology and digestive health at Intermountain Health. “It also drives home the point that prevention is the best strategy to beat cancer.”
Dr. Owens also stressed that the goal is to get the public to take control of their health and better understand that colon cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable when detected early.
The only way to detect colon cancer it is through screening. People with an average risk of colon cancer should start their screenings at age 45.
Richard Erickson, 59, of Eagle Mountain, knows first-hand the importance of early screening. He says he maybe waited a little too long to get his first colonoscopy at 57.
He was experiencing fatigue, weakness, and severe abdominal pain. He says he finally got over his aversion to the doctor’s office, listened to his wife and got a colonoscopy, where doctors discovered a large tumor.
Erickson has now undergone multiple surgeries to remove the tumor and part of his colon as well as chemotherapy.
His advises others to not ignore early symptoms and get in and schedule their colonoscopies.
“Don’t be like me! Colon cancer is treatable and there are great people to take care of it, but it’s best to take care of it in advance,” said Erickson.
Erickson also now knows there is colon cancer in his family history, which is one of the risk factors. So, he encourages others to also know their family history.
A colonoscopy, which is an examination of the inside of your colon, is the most effective method of screening for colon cancer, precancerous growths, and polyps. If an abnormal mass or polyp is identified during the outpatient procedure, the physician will identify the best course of treatment, which may include removing it during the procedure.
“Finding and removing precancerous growths during a colonoscopy can prevent cancer from developing,” said Dr. Merriman. “Delays in screening could lead to a delayed cancer diagnosis. A screening can really save a life and protect a family. We need everyone’s help to work together to prevent colon cancer across our communities.”
The inflatable colon will be at Intermountain Spanish Fork Hospital on Tuesday, March 21 and Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital on Wednesday, March 22, then continue to travel to different hospitals in Utah and Idaho throughout March.
For the full inflatable colon tour, see the schedule here.
For more information on colonoscopies, go to www.intermountainhealthcare.org/colonoscopy.
About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., www.intermountainhealth.org is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.