By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
A larger-than-life replica of the human colon — "The Colossal Colon" — came to the Central Elementary gym in Centerville for two days, Friday and Saturday, March 30-31.
Mercy Medical Center-Centerville employees were present both days to explain the exhibit, talk about colon cancer and early detection and to hand out informational materials.
"The Colossal Colon" is a 40-foot long, four-foot tall, crawl-through replica of the human colon. With each step through "The Colossal Colon" comes a visual reminder of various colon diseases, polyps, cancerous polyps and stage 4 colon cancer.
A few steps in and the exhibit shows, in detail, colon diseases like ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis and Crohns. Take a few steps more and look at polyps, pre-cancerous. Left untreated, the pre-cancerous polyps can turn cancerous. Then the colon wall can be broken and the cancer spreads to other organs.
"Colorectal cancer typically begins as a polyp, which can almost always be detected and removed during a colonoscopy," according to literature released by the Colon Club in 2009 that was available during the Centerville event. "By getting a colonoscopy, you have the chance to have polyps removed and stop the cancer before it even starts."
Experts say colon cancer can be eliminated with early detection and regular screening.
Help make the extinction of colon cancer a real possibility. Take the fist step and contact your health care provider or call Heather McKelvey, Mercy Medical Center-Centerville health promotions manager at (641) 437-4422 to schedule a colonoscopy.
COLON CANCER Q&A
Q. How much does a colonoscopy cost?
A. On average, a colonoscopy costs about $3,000 if not covered by insurance.
Q. When should a colonoscopy be done?
A. Turn age 50, or have an increased risk due to family history at age 40.
Q. Does colon cancer have symptoms?
A. No. But a change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss, vomiting, lack of energy, unexplained anemia, stool blood, gas, bloating, cramps and the feeling the bowel does not empty could indicate possible colon problems.
Q. What happens during a colonoscopy procedure?
A. The patient is given a mild sedative asked to lay on the left side and given a mild sedative. The doctor administers the end of the colonoscope into the patients anus and advances it forward to the end of the colon. The scope is then pulled out by the doctor while observing the inner colon wall for polyps. If necessary, the doctor can perform a biopsy by snaring a polyp for additional testing.
Q. How long does a colonoscopy last?
A. A typical colonoscopy lasts from 30-45 minutes. The actual time depends on what is found during the procedure.
"The Colossal Colon" is sponsored nationally by "Get Your Guts in Gear — The Ride for Crohns and Colitis." Visit www.IBDride.org for more information.