WENATCHEE — Your gut reaction to get that colonoscopy is right on target, said the doctor standing inside the giant colon. The procedure can locate polyps — “like this big one here,” he said, pointing to a watermelon-sized lesion — and help save lives.
Dr. Inku Hwang, gastroenterologist at Confluence Health, led a medical team here last weekend who gave public tours through the Strollin’ Colon, a giant inflatable mock-up of a human’s lower bowel set up at Pybus Public Market.
“A colonoscopy, leading to early detection, is one of the main reasons cancer rates have fallen in the U.S.,” said Hwang. “It’s very effective.”
The bright pink inflatable — 12 feet high, 10 feet long, 150 pounds deflated — drew scores of curious adults and kids who’d never really gotten a close-up look at the inside of their insides. Displays showed how a tiny polyp could grow into full-blown cancer.
The traveling exhibition is produced by Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company that specializes in cancer therapies, among others.
A colonoscopy is an examination of the lining of the lower large intestine using a flexible tube (colonoscope) with a camera at the end. It’s inserted through the rectum into the colon for the examination, which takes from 15 to 60 minutes.
Hwang said Confluence Health has six gastroenterologists who each perform seven to nine colonoscopies daily. “Most are normal, maybe with a few (non-canerous) polyps found,” he said. “Cancers are found maybe a couple of times a month and, oftentimes, those cancers can be cured.”