A gigantic, inflatable replica of the human colon is now gracing the city of Miami to raise awareness of colon cancer.
The bright-red colon, measuring 30 feet (9 meters) long and 10 feet (3 meters) high, was blown up in front of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Health System.
Inside the colon's long tunnel, visitors can see displays of healthy tissue, the different stages of colon cancer, and information about other intestinal conditions, like Crohn's disease.
"This is a very deadly cancer and very common," Dr. Floriano Marchetti, colorectal surgeon at the University of Miami Health System, told the Associated Press. "It's the third most common cancer here in the country. So it's a very serious problem, and it's a very curable disease at the same time, depending on when you catch it."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal-cancer screenings can help prevent the disease by finding precancerous polyps early. These polyps can then be removed before they develop into cancer.
Each year, about 140,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it, according to the CDC. Regular colon-cancer screenings are recommended for most people starting at age 50, but many people ignore that recommendation.
"Despite all that we do in terms of advertising it and inviting people to get screened, the reality is that less than 50 percent of Americans do have any kind of screening from colon cancer, let alone a colonoscopy," Marchetti said.
The inflatable colon will tour several cities across the United States in March as part of Colon Cancer Awareness Month.