Inflatable colon raises cancer awareness

A clever way to grab peoples’ attention.
— Dr. Dale

Inflatable colon raises cancer awareness

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- An odd exhibit is bringing attention to a big issue. A 14-foot replica of a colon was on display at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk Wednesday.

The colon also gives people a deeper understanding of the importance of getting checked.

"We are in one of the three hot spots in the United States for people who are dying at a higher rate of colon cancer rates compared to other parts of the country," said Dr. Cynthia Romero.

She explained why the rates are so high: "People are not getting screened, or by the time they are detected, they are actually detected at a later stage."

To educate future doctors and combat the problem, EVMS brought in gastroenterologist Dr. Bruce Waldholtz. He said part of the goal is to increase the number of people getting a colonoscopy.

"To have 80 percent of Americans screened for colorectal cancer by one of the American Cancer Society screening guidelines by the year 2018," said Waldholtz.

Right now, Medicare beneficiaries are covered for colonoscopies, but Dr Waldholtz said there's still an important treatment piece missing.

"Unfortunately if a polyp is found during that time, due to a problem in the writing of the bill, the patients may have to pay co-insurance costs, going up to $300 per patient," he said.

That's why next week he and 700 other American Cancer Society volunteers are lobbying in Washington to change that. He says the more screenings, the better.

"Then by the year 2030 nationwide, the American Cancer Society has estimated we will decrease the number of cases by 277,000 and the number of deaths by 203,000," he said.