It’s an embarrassing topic for many people. You know, butts and intestines and bowel movements and all that. But when it comes to saving lives by preventing colon cancer, let’s face it, there’s no such thing as too much information.
To that end, the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, in conjunction with government partners, has been taking a “giant colon” on the road to cities across Ontario to educate people about the disease and to promote the need for screening.
After a stop at the Dufferin Mall, the colon will be set up at Queen’s Park March 17-18.
At 12 metres long and 2.5 metres high, the pink worm-like structure allows visitors a walk-through view of the inside of a colon, although this one is made of a plasticized material that keeps its shape thanks to compressed air.
Once inside, visitors see the stalky, mushroom-like growths called polyps attached to the colon’s lining and what they may evolve into if not removed — the dreaded mass of cells that indicates a tumour.
Since January, the exhibit has visited nine Ontario cities, including London, Kingston, and Thunder Bay. Two more stops are planned in the province — in Peterborough and Ottawa/Renfrew.
“It attracts a lot of attention,” says Dr. Linda Rabeneck, medical director of Ontario’s colorectal screening program.
And that’s the whole point, says the gastroenterologist from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, who sees too many patients whose newly diagnosed colorectal cancer has already reached an advanced stage. “We hope that they’ll be aware that this is an important cancer.”