Giant colon raises cancer awareness
CARSON CITY — How does one keep a 20-foot colon healthy? And no, the answer isn’t a 5-foot bran muffin.
It’s actually a little more simple: A steady stream of people.
That’s right — people.
No, the 20-foot colon isn’t some art installation warmed-over from Burning Man.
It’s an inflatable and interactive display to show adult Nevadans “what needs to be done with health screening, but in a way that keeps it light,” one local health-care spokeswoman said.
Indeed, even the name “Super Colon and Friends” brings a smile to the display’s sponsors.
“It’s as curious a type of display as there is,” said Felicia Archer, public relations spokeswoman from the Washoe Tribal Health Center, the clinic responsible for bringing the interactive display to Northern Nevada for the first time. “And, it’s the coolest thing. Screening makes all the difference.”
Super Colon will be on display on the Legislative Lawn on Nevada Day weekend (Oct. 27 and 28). Other sponsors of the exhibit include the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation and the Nevada State Health Division Bureau of Community Health.
The centerpiece of the cancer awareness-themed portion of Nevada Day, the giant colon will be accompanied by the Mammovan (where people can get screened for breast cancer) as well as information from the Carson Tahoe Cancer Center.
“We keep seeing Nevada at the top of every bad list and the bottom of every good one,” Archer said. “This is an opportunity to get ahead of the game, to get people to come out and get screened.
“To get people the information they need.”
Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in Nevada, and among nonsmokers it is No. 1. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007, 1,120 Nevadans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and 490 will die.
Colon cancer can almost always be treated successfully if detected early. Starting at age 50, men and women should begin screenings, health officials said.
If colon cancer is found early and treated, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. But because many people are not getting tested, only 39 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when treatment is most successful, according to the Cancer Society.
The Super Colon will make its journey from the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation nonprofit based in Alexandria, Va. The waiting list for functions like Nevada Day is “long — we were lucky to get it,” Neiman said.
“Most of all, this is going to be a fun event,” she said. “It’s going to be educational and fun and interactive.
“People get to walk through this colon and it’s like ‘what?!’ But really, it’s a great way to learn about a very serious issue.”
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