Inflatable colon in Benton Harbor brings awareness to cancer, screenings

Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 6:13 PM EDT
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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - InterCare Community Health Network in Benton Harbor did something a little different to inform people about colon cancer and the importance of getting checked for it.

Earlier this week, a 32-foot-long inflated model of a colon was on display for guests inside the lobby of the building. The exhibit was part of the health network’s celebration of National Health Center Week.

“This I just another tool in our tool belt to teach people about colon cancer and the screening and how critical it is to identify cancer,” said Dr. Lisa Fink, medical director of InterCare in Southwest Michigan. “It gives a visual for people, especially those visual learners, to look at what might be inside your body that the doctors are seeing when they do testing.”

Fink said there are three ways people can get checked for colon cancers:

“I recommend the colonoscopy because it is the best, and it can remove polyps along the way,” Fink said. “Polyps are growths inside your colon that can be there and be benign. In other words, they may not be harmful in any way. However, during a colonoscopy, doctors will tend to remove them because they do not know if they can be pre-cancerous.

“So, that’s why a colonoscopy can offer more than other testing can, because it can remove those polyps before they become cancer,” she added.

Earlier this week, a 32-foot-long inflated model of a colon was on display for guests inside...
Earlier this week, a 32-foot-long inflated model of a colon was on display for guests inside the lobby of InterCare Community Health Network in Benton Harbor.(WNDU)

Fink also touched on the new age recommendation for screenings, as she said people with colon cancer have a better chance of surviving if it’s caught early.

“It used to be 50,” she said. “Now, they’ve lowered the screening to start at 45 — the reason being that there were many people that were diagnosed with cancer between the 45 and 50-year-old age groups. So, they lowered the recommendation so that we could catch those people early.”

If you’re nervous about getting screened, Fink has the following advice for you.

“There is a little bit more work up front with the colonoscopy, and that you have to do the prep ahead of time,” she said. “But I do think it’s worth it so that the cancer can be diagnosed right on the spot, and the idea being if you catch cancer early, you treat it, and your survival rate goes much higher.”

Hospital officials tell 16 News Now the estimated screening rate for eligible folks in Berrien County stands at 72%. The national screening goal is 80%.

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