A giant inflatable colon took over a conference room at West Jefferson Medical Center on Monday, the centerpiece of the hospital’s annual Colon Health Fair — an event dedicated to providing information on the risks and causes of, and treatments for, colon cancer.
Kelly McDermott, a GI/Endoscopy nurse at West Jeff for 27 years, guided me through the mockup, which detailed the various stages of a healthy colon’s progression into full-blown cancer.
“Crohn’s Disease can turn into colon cancer,” McDermott explained, as we passed through into the polyps stage. Doctors urge screening in an effort to catch the disease at the polyps stage, when they can be easily removed before turning malignant.
McDermott said no one really knows what causes colon cancer, but heredity is a known factor. Experts urge people with no family history to get checked at age 50, but African Americans should get checked at age 45, due to a higher incidence of the disease. If you have a family history of colon cancer, move those ages back ten years, she said.
“People come regularly now” for checkups, McDermott said. “They’re not as embarrassed.”