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Hospitals and medical centers across the country are marking Colon Cancer Awareness/Prevention Month by using inflatable colons to educate the public about colorectal cancer and to encourage people to be screened for the disease.
Visitors can walk through an inflatable colon, see what healthy tissue is supposed to look like, and learn how problems such as polyps and cancer develop. Doctors hope that inflatable colons will get people talking about colorectal cancer and encourage them to get themselves checked for early signs of the disease.
Colorectal cancer can affect as many as one in 20 people. The American Cancer Society predicts about 93,900 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed this year. The group also predicts almost 40,000 cases of rectal cancer.
The death rate associated with colorectal cancer has declined in recent years, probably because of screening that is leading to early detection. Still, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States if men and women are considered separately. If men and women are combined, it is the second-leading cause of death. The disease is projected to lead to about 49,700 deaths this year.
The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened. Doctors recommend that most people get a colonoscopy at age 50 and at least every 10 years after that. People with a family history of cancer should talk to their doctor about getting screened prior to age 50.
Colon cancer often does not have any signs or symptoms until the disease is at an advanced stage. Detecting and removing polyps early can save lives. People can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by eating more fruits, vegetables, and legumes; eating less red meat; and exercising.