DETROIT – Taking a stroll through a 32-foot-long by 14-feet-high replica of the human colon may someday save your life.
At least that’s the hope of the Josephine Ford Cancer Institute at Henry Ford Hospital and the American Cancer Society– that traveling through the interactive colon might lessen the fear of colonoscopy by showing the benefits of early detection and polyp removal, greatly improving cancer survival for the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
The two organizations are set to partner Monday, March 10 to host a community colon health event featuring an interactive, giant walk-through colon, as well as an educational panel discussion on colorectal cancer. The event is free and open to the public.
The display of the giant inflatable colon is a first in Detroit. Attendees are invited to walk through it from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Henry Ford Hospital, 2799 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit.
Additionally, from noon – 1 p.m. Craig Reickert, M.D., division head of Colon and Rectal Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, will lead a panel discussion on colon health in the hospital’s Buerki Auditorium.
Throughout the entire event, Dr. Reickert, along with experts from Henry Ford’s colorectal surgery and gastroenterology departments, as well as American Cancer Society, will be available to answer questions about colon health, disease prevention and screenings, and available treatments for colon diseases.
“Colorectal cancer is common, with more than 136,000 new cases diagnosed annually,” says Dr. Reickert. “We’d rather prevent colorectal cancer than treat it. Everyone over the age of 50 should ask their primary care physician about screening for colorectal cancer.”
A study published in 2013 and funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control found that the giant colon exhibit improved public knowledge and interest in colorectal cancer screening.
The eye-catching educational tool depicts the good and bad things that can appear in the human colon, such as healthy and non-healthy polyps. In addition to information on polyps, it illustrates various stages of disease, with explanations of normal colon tissue, Crohn’s Disease, colon cancer and advanced colon cancer.
Colon cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Most colorectal cancers start as a polyp, a growth that starts in the inner lining of the colon or rectum and grows toward the center. Most polyps are not cancer; only certain types of polyps (called adenomas) can become cancer.
In many cases, screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. And if cancer is present, earlier detection means a chance at a longer life — generally, five-year survival rates for colon cancer are lower the further advanced the disease is at detection.
More Facts about Colorectal Cancer and Colonoscopy
• Colon cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer because if it is found early through screening tests, it can be stopped before it has even begun.
• According to the American Cancer Society, 136,000 people were diagnosed in 2014 and there were more than 50,000 deaths.
• In Michigan, 12 people per day are diagnosed, totaling more than 4,500 Michiganders this year.
• Colon cancer affects men and women equally but African-Americans are diagnosed with and die from the disease at higher rates than any other U.S. racial or ethnic group.
• 90 percent of colon cancer occurs in people over age 50.
• Certain individuals, however, may be a candidate for the procedure before age 50: Those with a family history of colon cancer with an immediate family member, or individuals with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or those with a history of specific genetic disorders.
• The good news is that in the past 15 years, there has been a significant drop in colon cancer and that drop can be attributed to the colonoscopy
• During a colonoscopy, a physician uses a very thin, flexible, hollow tube with a light and a very small camera to look for any polyps or signs of cancer inside the colon. Polyps are abnormal growths found in the wall of the colon that sometimes become cancerous.