Giant colon coming to Carson City |

Giant colon coming to Carson City

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer
Photo submitted Super Colon, an inflatable and interactive display, will be on display on the Legislative Lawn as part of a cancer awareness-themed portion of Nevada Day.

How does one keep a 20-foot colon healthy? And no, the answer isn’t a 5-foot bran muffin.

It’s actually a little more simple: A steady stream of people.

That’s right – people.

No, the 20-foot colon isn’t some art installation warmed-over from Burning Man; nor is it an overwrought gimmick to shock folks into milling around, mouths agape, pointing at a giant inflatable model of one’s innards.

It’s an inflatable and interactive display to show adult Nevadans “what needs to be done with health screening, but in a way that keeps it light,” one local health-care spokeswoman said.

Indeed, even the name “Super Colon and Friends” brings a smile to the display’s sponsors.

“It’s as curious a type of display as there is,” said Felicia Archer, public relations spokeswoman from the Washoe Tribal Health Center, the clinic responsible for bringing the interactive display to Northern Nevada for the first time. “And, it’s the coolest thing. Screening makes all the difference.”

Super Colon will be on display on the Legislative Lawn on Nevada Day weekend (Oct. 27 and 28). Other sponsors of the exhibit include the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation and the Nevada State Health Division Bureau of Community Health.

The centerpiece of the cancer awareness-themed portion of Nevada Day, the giant colon will be accompanied by the Mammovan (where people can get screened for breast cancer) as well as information from the Carson Tahoe Cancer Center.

“We keep seeing Nevada at the top of every bad list and the bottom of every good one,” Archer said. “This is an opportunity to get ahead of the game, to get people to come out and get screened.

“To get people the information they need.”

In 2007, colon cancer rates here went up, a recent study from the Nevada Cancer Institute shows. Colon cancer is also the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in Nevada, and among nonsmokers it is No. 1.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007, 1,120 Nevadans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and that 490 will die.

Colon cancer can almost always be treated successfully if detected early. Starting at age 50, men and women should begin screenings, an institute spokesman said.

If colon cancer is found early and treated, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. But because many people are not getting tested, only 39 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when treatment is most successful, according to the Cancer Society.

That the Washoe Tribe is a sponsor also holds particular meaning, said Kim Neiman, RN, the director for wellness for the Washoe Tribal Health Center.

“The Native American population has a higher risk of cancer,” Neiman said. “Our state on average is below-average on screening – not just the Native American population but the population as a whole.”

The Super Colon will make its journey from the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation nonprofit based in Alexandria, Va. The waiting list for functions like Nevada Day is “long – we were lucky to get it,” Neiman said.

“Most of all, this is going to be a fun event,” she said. “It’s going to be educational and fun and interactive.

“People get to walk through this colon and it’s like ‘what?!’ But really, it’s a great way to learn about a very serious issue.”

A colonoscopy is the best test to detect colon cancer. A colonoscopy can detect polyps that have developed in the lining of the colon or rectum (colon cancer and rectal cancer are collectively known as colorectal cancer). Certain kinds of polyps have the potential to become cancerous.

The goal of colon cancer screening is to find polyps and cancers before they cause symptoms. These tests offer the best opportunity to detect colon cancer at an early stage when successful treatment is likely, and to prevent some cancers by detection and removal of polyps.

The ACS has identified several risk factors for developing colorectal cancer:

• Age: More than 90 percent of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are older than 50.

• A personal history of colorectal cancer.

• A personal history of colorectal polyps.

• A personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

• A family history of colorectal cancer. People with a family history of colorectal cancer need to talk with their doctor about beginning screenings before age 50.

On Nevada Day

Along with the “Super Colon,” additional partners and exhibitors on Nevada Day at the Legislative Lawn will include the Nevada Cancer Institute, Digestive Health Associates, Nevada Health Centers Inc., Gastroenterology Consultants LTD, Partnership for Prescription Assistance, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, Carson Tahoe Medical Center’s Cancer Resource Center, Carson Area Wellness Coalition and the American Cancer Society.

Washoe Tribal Health Center

Sponsor of the “Super Colon,” the clinic serves the 1,600 members of the tribe as well indigenous people and residents from throughout Northern Nevada. The center has some 3,300 patients.