Giant colon comes to Moffitt to raise cancer awareness

Moffitt Cancer Center hopes to raise the awareness of colon cancer with a 20-foot long, 450-pound inflatable model of the human large intestine.

Students can visit the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s “Super Colon” today at the center. The event is designed to educate people about approaches that can lead to the early discovery and prevention of colon cancer — also known as colorectal cancer.

“Out of all the types of cancer, colorectal cancer is the number two killer in America,” said Christine Roemer, patient education specialist at Moffitt. “This is real; it’s killing people, and it doesn’t have to.”

Health professionals and nurses will be available at the event to answer questions. A nutritionist will also give out information that shows how to maintain a healthy colon —eating plenty of fiber and exercising regularly.

The event will also feature a real examination scope to demonstrate colonoscopies on a lifelike colon simulator.

“Participants will be able to watch what actually happens when someone gets a colonoscopy,” Roemer said. “They will have a chance to see what the body looks like, what is healthy, and what it looks like when the doctor sees a problem.”

Moffitt will also provide a Spanish-speaking staff. Signs explaining the exhibit will line the inside of the inflatable rectum in both Spanish and English to help a wide range of people understand the dangers of colon cancer.

To bring this event to USF, a rental fee was paid. Sanofi-Aventis, a pharmaceutical company working closely with Moffitt, created a grant to cover the cost.

Dr. Egilda Terenzi, director of the clinical and medical services at USF, said the key to a healthy colon is lifestyle choices.

“Educating people in their 20s or 30s about healthy choices that can be made now in life is an example of how events like these can be a great service to the community,” Terenzi said. “The more education offered, the more chance that prevention reaches the person who actually needs it.”

Roemer said she believes it is important for people to be comfortable with the thought of colon examinations.

“They might feel that the procedures are invasive or scary. That’s why this education piece is so important,” she said. “Something like a polyp can be removed right then during the procedure. When they are removed, the cancer doesn’t have a chance to develop.”

Vadin Lall Dass, a sophomore medical student, said the event would be beneficial to both USF students and others so they can recognize risk factors.

“Hopefully it will also encourage community members over the age of 50 to have colonoscopies to aid in early detection and treatment of the disease,” Lall Dass said.

The Super Colon exhibit will take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today in the Atrium of the Moffitt Cancer Center Stabile Research building.