Giant Colon In Times Square Raises Cancer Awareness

By Hilda Scott , Mar 04, 2013 03:44 PM EST

A 20-foot inflatable walk-through colon helped kick off National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in Times Square, New York City on Friday (March 1). For years, the 'Prevent Cancer Super Colon' has helped raise awareness of colon cancer by such displays across the nation.  

The campaign, "One Million Strong Times Square Kickoff'' was organized by the advocacy group Fight Colorectal Cancer. The 3-dimensional inflatable colon demonstrates diseases that affect the colon, including Crohn's disease, colorectal polyps and colon cancer. The third most common cancer is colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society; it's expected to be the cause of 51,000 deaths by the end of the year. It's estimated that approximately 143,000 new cases in the United States will be diagnosed this year.

Patients may feel embarrassed of the symptoms, which include blood in the stool, stomach pain and irregular movement of the bowels. The symptoms are persistent and it's important for people to see a physician for a colonoscopy.

"In Canada, there's a promotion to get people to go to colon cancer screenings that had naked butts on billboards. They're trying to say, yes, you're embarrassed to talk about it, but is it really worth risking your life not to talk about this?" Dr. Jordan Berlin, gastrointestinal oncologist at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center said.

Routine colonoscopies are recommended for people over age 50 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone, no matter what age, who has a history of colon cancer in the family should also get screened.

"You don't have to be 50. We're trying to raise awareness among the general population," said Carlea Bauman, president of Fight Colorectal Cancer. According to ABC News, she explained that colon cancer is more survivable when it's detected sooner than later. "It can make the difference between life and death," she said.

There are over 1 million colorectal cancer survivors in the U.S and the Fight Colorectal Cancer advocacy group offers support for patients and their loved ones.  The organization helps to increase and improve research for all stages of cancer. The "One Million Strong Times Square Kickoff" event was sponsored by Bayer Healthcare.

(Edited by Lois Heyman)

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