Health Team

'Super Colon' Raises Awareness to Cancer Screenings

Posted May 21, 2007 3:11 p.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2007 3:25 p.m. EDT

WRAL Health Team

— A large attraction in Chapel Hill may look like an inflatable place for kids, but for others, it raises awareness to a deadly disease.

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the country. The Super Colon at Meadowmont is designed to convince visitors to think about colon cancer screening.

"If they're not afraid to look at it and walk through it, then they won't be so afraid to have it examined," said UNC gastroenterologist Dr. Sidney Levinson.

Levinson said anyone 50 years of age and older should get a colonoscopy. Earlier screening is recommended for those with a family history of colorectal cancer and people with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohns.

Health experts said many people put off screening because they think it will be painful. In fact, sedation can make it a painless experience. The biggest challenge is taking the solutions to clear out the colon 24 hours before the exam.

The benefit is finding small growths called polyps before they become a problem.

It's really a preventable cancer. It's the most preventable cancer of all the major cancers that we deal with," Levinson said.

Levinson said a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and less red meat and animal fats may improve your colon health. Also, he suggests drinking plenty of fluids and exercise regularly.