“We obtained the rental of the Super Colon exhibit through the Prevent Cancer Foundation,” said Ginger Tyra, CMC’s director of marketing and public relations. “We were able to do that through an affiliation with Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition. They had grant funds that were available for colorectal cancer awareness events. [So it was] their grant funds that allowed us to be able to host an event here.
“Our goal is to promote the message of colon cancer prevention and early detection to our community. People seem to better absorb educational information when there’s something visual. The Super Colon is a giant inflatable, interactive, walk-through exhibit, which allows visitors to learn about their possible risks for developing colon cancer, prevention tips, symptoms and treatment options. We hope visitors will remember one simple, important message, that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable.”
Along with the exhibit, employees from the The Hope Center, Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers P.C. and Cartersville Gastrointestinal & Hepatobiliary Specialist will provide prevention and treatment data; and physicians, such as Drs. Greg McDonald, Harbin Clinic general surgeon on staff at CMC, and Madhurima Uppalapati, medical oncologist with Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers, will be available to answer questions. In addition, guests will be privy to a limited amount of free in-home self-screening colorectal cancer test kits; a Prevent Cancer Foundation representative will disperse colorectal cancer screening cards, brochures and “Buddy Bracelets;” and CMC’s registered dietitians will provide nutrition information.
“Colon cancer is a big killer in the United States,” McDonald said. “It’s really the No. 2 cancer killer among men and women. And what is really unique about colon and rectal cancer is that it’s preventable, in so many cases it’s preventable. You think about all we do in the battle against cancer and trying to do things, like early detection. Mammogram is a great example. We do mammograms and we are basically looking for indicators of early cancer and that’s great, that saves lives because when you treat cancer early it’s always better.
“But unfortunately even in breast cancer, there’s not that opportunity to intervene and prevent and that’s what’s unique about colon cancer is that you’re able to intervene when there is a growth or polyp, as we call it, growing in the colon and you can take that polyp out usually without any kind of a big deal. You can take that polyp out with just a simple procedure at the time of the colonoscopy. ... It literally is preventing the progression of that lesion toward cancer.”
To help decrease the occurrence of colorectal cancer, he encourages people to begin screenings at age 50 with colonoscopies scheduled earlier or more frequent if there is a personal or family history; eat a high-fiber diet; and avoid the combination of using tobacco products along with alcohol.
“The majority of cases of colon cancer are spontaneous,” McDonald said. “Even if you don’t have significant risk factors, it’s not enough to take a deep breath and say, ‘Well, I guess I’m not at risk for colon cancer.’
“The majority of cases are spontaneous and polyps do not have reliable symptoms. So that’s why we feel so strongly about routine colonoscopy.”
For more information about the Prevent Cancer Super Colon, visit www.preventcancer.org. To obtain additional details on the overall event, call MedLine at 800-242-5662.