SEARHC hosts 'Nolan the Colon' for Southeast tour

Susea Albee and her son take a tour of Nolan the Colon, an educational exhibit that shows different stages of colon health. March is colorectal cancer awareness month and Nolan will be available for viewing in some Southeast communities.

Nolan the Colon is coming to Southeast Alaska this spring. The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) will host “Nolan the Colon” for a tour of Juneau, Skagway and Yakutat during March and April.

Nolan the Colon is an inflatable, interactive super colon, standing more than 10 feet tall and 25 feet long, designed to raise awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening. Nolan is big enough for people to walk through, so they can see what a healthy colon looks like and see how precancerous polyps can grow to become colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) ranks among the leading causes of death for Alaska Natives, and Natives are twice as likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer as non-Natives.

The tour opens on Thursday through Saturday, March 22-24 (the last three days of the Gold Medal basketball tournament) when Nolan will be at Juneau-Douglas High School while games are in progress. The SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program will hold daily drawings for door prizes while Nolan is in Juneau.

The next stop on the tour is the Skagway Community Health Fair from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 14, at the Skagway Recreational Center. Nolan then goes to the Yakutat Community Health Fair from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 21, at Yakutat High School.

Colorectal cancer is one of the easiest cancers to prevent with a healthy lifestyle and appropriate screening. Colorectal cancer usually is found in people age 50 or older, but younger people also can get it. The risk for colorectal cancer is higher for people who are obese or eat diets with lots of red meat or processed foods. Heavy alcohol use, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke also can increase the risk.

The early stages of colorectal cancer have few symptoms, which makes screening more important. Precancerous polyps can be detected and removed during screening, before they become cancer. All adults age 50 or older should talk with their medical provider about screening, and so should younger adults who have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or bowel diseases.

For more information about Nolan the Colon’s Southeast tour, please call SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s and Colorectal Health Programs Coordinator Nancy Jo Bleier at 966-8849. For more information about colorectal cancer and the SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program, talk to your SEARHC medical provider or call 966-8541. Owned by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Cancer Program and the Alaska Colorectal Cancer Partnership, Nolan the Colon travels the state to educate people about colorectal cancer and the importance of getting screened.

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