MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Intermountain Health’s “Let’s Get to the Bottom of Colon Cancer” Inflatable Colon Tour promotes colon screenings during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Intermountain Health’s unique community colon cancer awareness campaign, “Let’s Get to the Bottom of Colon Cancer” giant inflatable colon tour is traveling to 22 hospitals and clinics in Utah and Idaho in 30 days, bringing with it vital awareness about colon cancer and the importance of potentially life-saving screenings.
The unique tour is an interactive opportunity for the public to see what it looks like inside a human colon –– not a view many people get to see.
“As people walk through the 12-foot, 113-pound inflatable colon, it depicts the different stages of colorectal cancer, starting with the earliest stage of a precancerous colon polyp,” said Holly Clark, MD, gastroenterologist at Intermountain Heber Valley Hospital and Intermountain Health Park City Hospital. “We hope this helps educates people about recommended screenings and raise awareness about how to prevent this disease.”
Dr. Clark also stressed that the goal is to get the public to take control of their health and better understand that colon cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable when detected early.
A new report from the American Cancer Society shows an increasing rate of colon cancer in younger patients with 1 in 5 new cases being those in their early 50’s or younger.
The report shows the portion of colon cancer cases made up of people 55 and younger has gone from 11 percent in 1995 to 20 percent in 2019.
The American Cancer Society also estimates more than 153,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, making it the third-most common cancer diagnosed for men and women and the second-leading cause of total cancer-related deaths.
The only way to detect colon cancer it is through screening. People with an average risk of colon cancer should start their screenings at age 45.
If you are over 45 years old, or have a history of colon cancer in your family, talk to your doctor about your options for early detection and prevention.
Intermountain Health experts are working to raise awareness so that people know that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable with early detection.
Here’s what they want you to know:
1. Know When to Get Screened
Colon cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, but the only way to detect it is through screening. People with an average risk of colon cancer should start their screenings at age 45.
For most patients a colonoscopy is then only needed once every 10 years, or once every five years if your doctor determines you have an increased risk of colon cancer. Earlier screening may be recommended for anyone with a family history of colon cancer.
If you have irritable bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract, talk with your doctor or a GI specialist to determine when and how often you should be screened.
And don’t delay your colonoscopies.
“Delays in screening could lead to a delayed cancer diagnosis,” said Dr. Clark. “Screenings are designed to detect cancer early and early detection is more easily treatable, so we have better outcomes.”
A colonoscopy is the most effective method of screening for colon cancer, precancerous growths, and polyps. If an abnormal mass or polyp is identified, your physician will identify the best course of treatment which may include removing it during the procedure.
Finding and removing precancerous growths during a colonoscopy can help prevent cancer from developing.
A colonoscopy also helps your doctor see other problems that may be causing abdominal pain, weight loss, rectal bleeding or changes in bowel habits.
2. Know the Warning Signs of Colon Cancer
Early-stage colon cancer seldom causes any clear or obvious symptoms, so it’s important to know the warning signs, such as:
• change in bowel habits
• rectal bleeding
• abdominal pain
• unintentional weight loss
• unexplained anemia (iron deficiency)
Many of these symptoms can be caused by something other than cancer, so get to know your body well enough that you can report changes in your overall health to your physician.
3. Know Your Risk Factors
• Age: The risk of developing many cancers increases as we age. Ninety percent of colorectal cancer occurs in adults over age 45, however rates are rising in people who are in their 40’s. By 2030, early-onset colorectal cancer is expected to become the leading cancer related cause of death for people age 20-to-49.
• Family History: If you have a close relative who has had colon cancer or a colon polyp, you may be at higher risk for getting the disease.
• Medical Conditions: Having an inflammatory bowel disease may increase your risk for developing colon cancer.
• Race: Rates of colorectal cancer are higher in African Americans compared with other races. This may be because fewer African Americans get screened for colon cancer.
• Lifestyle: There are some risk factors you can change. These include stopping smoking, improving your diet, keeping a healthy weight, and being active.
4. Additional Screenings for Colon Cancer Are Available
In the past, one of the only ways to screen was a colonoscopy, which uses a camera system inserted into the colon to look for possible issues. New advancements allow people to screen more often using a Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) kit at home.
The FIT isn’t set to replace a colonoscopy, but can serve as a vital tool for regular monitoring for those with low to moderate risk of colorectal cancer. Physicians agree, If FIT results come back positive, a colonoscopy should be scheduled.
New research shows non-compliance with a colonoscopy after positive FIT results doubles the risk of dying.
A person can receive a FIT kit by having their doctor to order them one. It is recommended people speak with their doctors to come up with a screening plan that’s right for them.
Always call your insurance company before undergoing any test or procedure to determine coverage and any other questions you may have. If you are 45 years old or older, talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.
For more information on FIT kits, colonoscopies, or to find a physician click here.
For the full inflatable colon tour click here.
The American Cancer Society & Intermountain Health recommend that colorectal cancer screenings begin at age 45. For more information on colonoscopies, go to intermountainhealthcare.org/colonoscopy.
Sponsored by Intermountain Health.