‘Incredible Colon’ in Kentucky helps illustrate cancer risks
An interactive, inflatable colon was on display at Baptist Health Paducah for hospital visitors to walk through and get an inside look at what colon cancer symptoms might look like.
The 20 foot “Incredible Colon” display shows a visual representation of a healthy colon near one end. It then displays the symptoms of colon cancer starting with the presence of polyps and working its way down to advanced stage colon cancer. The Incredible Colon also illustrates what certain diseases, including Crohn’s disease, look like inside the colon.
Representatives from the Kentucky Cancer Program, a statewide cancer prevention and control program, were on hand to distribute information about colon cancer symptoms, cancer screening and how people can prevent colon cancer. Visitors with high risk factors could also receive a free colon cancer screening kit.
Angie Timmons, a cancer control specialist at the Kentucky Cancer Program, said the group works with Baptist Health Paducah each year as part of National Dress in Blue Day, a day intended to bring visibility to colon cancer in wearing blue.
According to the Kentucky Cancer Program, certain factors put people at higher risk of developing colon cancer. These risk factors include being over 50, having a personal or family history of colon cancer or polyps, having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or other inherited conditions and being African American.
While the Kentucky Cancer Program says colon cancer can appear without showing symptoms, possible symptoms to be aware of include blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, or unexplained weight loss. Baptist Health Paducah added other symptoms to watch out for, including unexplained anemia, fatigue, persistent abdominal pain and frequent vomiting.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined, according to Baptist Health Paducah.
Amanda King, marketing and public relations specialist for Baptist Health Paducah, said Kentucky leads the nation in colon cancer cases, both in people under 50 and in people over 50. years and older. However, when detected early, cancer can be cured by up to 90%.
The American Cancer Society recommends adults age 45 or older be screened by colonoscopy. If a patient has a family history of colon cancer or polyps, the American Cancer Society recommends starting screening at age 40.
To continue raising awareness during Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Timmons said the Kentucky Cancer Program and The Incredible Colon will be on campus at West Kentucky Community and Technical College on March 14.
Baptist Health Paducah also has an online risk assessment tool for people to see if they are at risk for colon cancer. The tool is available at baptisthealth.com/services/cancer-care.