MIAMI (AP) - A 30-foot long, 10-foot high replica of the human colon was on display Friday in Miami to educate people about colorectal cancer.
Physicians with the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Health System walked through the "Giant Inflatable Colon" with guests and patients, giving them a close-up view of healthy tissue as well as the various stages of colon cancer. Doctors also discussed the risks, prevention, symptoms, early detection and treatment options for colorectal cancer.
The inflatable replica has toured several of the top cancer centers across the U.S. this month for colorectal cancer awareness month.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. and the fourth worldwide.
"This is a very deadly cancer and very common," said Dr. Floriano Marchetti, colorectal surgeon. "It's the third most common cancer here in the country. So it's a very serious problem, and it's a very curable disease at the same time depending on when you catch it."
More than 102,000 new cases are expected in the U.S. this year and 40,000 people will die from it, according to the latest estimates by The American Cancer Society which recommends regular colon cancer screening for most people starting at age 50.
"Despite all that we do in terms of advertising it and inviting people to get screened, the reality is that less than 50 percent of Americans do have any kind of screening from colon cancer, let alone a colonoscopy," Dr. Marchetti said.
Sheila McConn, a community worker, said she hopes to see similar exhibits for other types of cancers.
"When we talk about preventative care, doing what's good for you, people understand and they get it when they can see it."
"This is mine," said Mike Engerstrom, standing in front of the 'Normal Colon' sign inside the inflatable exhibit. "I didn't ever think I would be there," he said from inside the colon, looking at the tissue walls above. "But it's pretty interesting, fascinating."
Suzette Laboy can be followed on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/SuzetteLaboy
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