Health Alert: Strollin’ Colon

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- March, which is just a few days away, will mark National Colon Cancer Awareness Month and joining us tonight for a two-part interview is Dr. Ryan Mark, a resident at UHC Family Medicine Residency program.

We're going to talk about a special exhibit that will be coming to UHC on March 8 and 9 to help create awareness during National Colon Awareness Month.

Question: So first, explain why there is a National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month?

Answer: As you mentioned in the introduction, March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. It is an annual campaign to raise awareness concerning the disease and fundraise for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and cure; as well as to support those affected by colorectal cancer.

This is critical for the following reasons: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- among cancers that affect both men and women-colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in both West Virginia and the United States. It is startling to think that more than 1,000 West Virginians will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year, and more than 400 will succumb to the disease.

(Note in some of the materials supplied for the exhibit it mentions that colon cancer ranks second in the U.S. and in other material supplied for this exhibit it says third in the U.S.)

Question: Tell us more about the exhibit and how it relates to colon cancer?

Answer: In honor of National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, UHC Family Medicine is hosting a special, free exhibit featuring the Strollin’ Colon, a 10 foot by 12-foot inflatable colon. We invite everyone to come take a tour to learn more about the colon and ways to keep you and your loved ones safe from colon cancer.

The inflatable colon exhibit will be on display on the first floor at UHC (across from the gift shop) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 8 and 9.

Question: What is the message you hope to communicate about colorectal cancer via the exhibit?

Answer: Screening continues to be a proven tool to reduce the burden of colorectal cancer in the U.S. However, according to the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), barriers to screening still remain, including:

- Affordability,
-Lack of symptoms
-No family history or personal connection
- More pressing health issues
- Negative perceptions about the test
- No regular primary care provider to reinforce messaging
-A doctor who does not recommend screening
-Physicians can play an important role in providing health information, while survivor stories make the message personal


Question: What should people expect when visiting the exhibit?

Answer: When you come to UHC to visit the Strollin’ Colon on the first floor, near the gift shop, (on either March 8 or 9 between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm), you will have the opportunity to tour an enlarged replica of what a colon could potentially look like. Once you enter the inflatable colon you will see a replica of what a colon looks like.
You will see what a:
• healthy section of the colon looks like with a very smooth lining, a pink surface and small blood vessels
• what benign polyps look like, these are fleshy growths in the lining of the colon
• what a malignant polyps look like, these are ugly, red, and may have areas of ulceration
• what colon cancer looks like, which may appear as mushroom shaped growths
• what advanced colon cancer looks like, which is what happens when nothing is done and growth of the cancer cells grow and spread through the wall of the colon and to other parts of the body—symptoms would include bleeding, pain, and weight loss.

The key to early detection of colon cancer is regular colon screenings. For more information please contact UHC Family Medicine at 681-342-3600.