Posted at: 03/05/2013 12:13 PM
Updated at: 03/05/2013 8:52 PM
By: Brittany Falkers
Folks are not usually thrilled to get up close and personal with a colon, but with one as big as a bedroom, it's hard to pass up the chance.
Essentia Health is marking Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month with a larger-than-life experience of a colon. For only two days, in Duluth, young and old alike have the chance to walk through a giant inflatable colon. In turn, they get a front and center look at a part of our bodies that many would rather not think about.
It is called the colossal colon and it's a big effort to raise awareness about colon health by brining a sometimes sensitive subject out in the open. Organizers say raising awareness is key, because colon cancer is the number two cancer killer. However, 90 percent of colorectal cancer deaths are preventable with regular screenings.
"Colon cancer is very serious and it's still, unfortunately, way too common and kills over 50,000 Americans a year," Dr. Tim Rubin is a gastroenterologist at Essentia Health said.
While it might be tempting to get caught up in toilet humor, this larger-than-life colon is here to get people thinking about their colon health.
"We want them to take away an understanding, so they know how serious it is and the fact that it's preventable, by undergoing a colonoscopy," Dr. Rubin said.
Digestive health experts say the best chance for early detection - or to prevent colon cancer altogether - is with a colonoscopy. It's recommended for everyone starting at age 50, or earlier if there is a family history of the disease, according to Dr. Rubin.
The most important first step, Dr. Rubin says, is talking to your family physician. Talk to your doctor about your overall colon health, especially if you have symptoms such as a change in bowel habits, blood in the stool, diarrhea, constipation or a feeling that the bowel does not empty completely, abdominal discomfort, and/or unexplained weight loss.
The bottom line: Anything that gets people thinking about their colon health, even a big inflatable bowel, might just save a life.
The colossal colon will be open for self-guided mini tours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Essentia Health-Duluth Clinic First Street Building again tomorrow, March 6.
It will also travel to raise awareness of the importance of early detection. The colon will be making stops at Essentia Health- Virginia on March 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at Essentia Health St. Mary's Hospital - Superior on March 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.