A 12-foot-long, 10-foot-wide, 10-foot-tall inflatable colon with polyps and healthy tissue was Kaiser Permanente's way of starting the conversation on colon health and colon cancer prevention on Monday.
March is colorectal cancer awareness month and according to multiple registered nurses at Kaiser Permanente, prevention and screening is vital when it comes to stopping colon cancer. Nationally, there are approximately 100,000 new cases of colon cancer every year and 50,000 deaths per year.
Here are some must-know facts on colon cancer according to Kaiser Permanente registered nurses Mary Amos and Joy Short:
- Colon cancer can be prevented through screening. The two types of screening are:
- FIT Kit, or faecal immunochemical test — An at-home fecal sample that the patient can administer themselves. The stool is then examined by physicians and if blood is detected, further testing is administered. Those aged 50 and over should submit a FIT kit once a year.
- Colonoscopies — Direct visualization inside the colon, the gold standard for colon cancer screening, Amos said. Those aged over 50 should have a colonoscopy.
- Those with a strong family history of colon cancer, siblings or parents, should be tested as early as 40 years old.
- Symptoms for colon cancer include: diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool or any change in bowel habits.
- Colon cancer has a 90-percent cure rate.
- Diets high in fiber can help prevent colon cancer.
- Avoid red meats, processed foods and lower your alcohol consumption to help keep your colon healthy.