When it comes to medical concerns, we humans have an alarming tendency to not admit to problems that may be embarrassing. Unfortunately, those problems can sometimes be very severe, like colorectal cancer—which is the combined name for both colon and rectal cancers.
Colorectal is the third most diagnosed cancer in the United States and causes about 51,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. According to the American Cancer Society, somewhere around 143,000 new cases will be diagnosed in this year alone. Those are some scary numbers. But because symptoms can be embarrassing to talk about—bloody stools, persistent stomach pain, irregular bowel movements that continue for long periods of time—too many people wait too long until going to see a doctor.
Rectal bleeding can be caused by a number of things, but number five on that list is colorectal cancer. Though there’s a good chance it is caused by something else, those experiencing it shouldn’t ignore the problem because it could be very serious.
When it comes to medical problems, we need to feel comfortable being open and honest with our doctors, and that’s where the giant inflatable colon comes in. The “Prevent Cancer Super Colon,” as it’s come to be called, is large enough for people to walk through, and indeed that’s the point. Inside are 3-D representations of Crohn’s disease, colorectal polyps and several different stages of colon cancer.
“People laugh and they’re a little bit shy and embarrassed at first, but then they dive in and share a lot,” said Cheryssa Jensen of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. “I hear graphic details. They talk about everything.”
The Super Colon was set up in Times Square on Friday to kick of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. It’s important for the public to be aware of symptoms and be able to talk about problems they may be having because early detection can be the difference between recovery and death. About 90 percent of stage 1 colon cancer patients are cured, but that number is cut drastically as cancer is allowed to progress unimpeded.
“It’s important that people stop the silence,” says Andrea Kramer, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer because she waited so long to go to the doctor. Luckily, she is a survivor. “We have a voice. We should use it.”