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This week, the Environment Report is taking an in-depth look at the connections between cancer and the environment.When somebody gets cancer, one of the first questions is usually "why?"Does this kind of cancer run in my family?Was it something in the water, or in the air around me?Did I get exposed to something?What would you do, or where would you go to answer these questions? We'll explore how much we really know about the connections between cancer and the chemicals in our environment.We'll also meet both regular people and scientists trying to figure out if certain towns around Michigan are struggling with more cancer cases than other places because of current or past pollution.You'll hear about whether or not turning to the courts makes sense when it seems a company might to be blame for putting people at risk of cancer or other illnesses.Finally, we'll look at where we go from here. What do researchers know, and where are they looking next?

Giant, inflatable colon coming to Ann Arbor area mall

The broad view of the giant colon.
American Cancer Society
/

That one got our attention too.

The press release from the University of Michigan News Service starts with "here's your chance:"

The University of Michigan Health System will partner with the American Cancer Society to bring a 32-foot-long, 14-foot-high giant replica of the colon to Briarwood Mall, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 22, to raise awareness of colorectal cancer.

What does such a thing look like? We asked for a few photos.

The giant colon displays various stages of colon cancer and pre-cancer conditions.
Credit American Cancer Society
/
The giant colon displays various stages of colon cancer and pre-cancer conditions.
Visiting the giant colon.
Credit American Cancer Society
/
Visiting the giant colon.

U of M physicians will also be on hand to answer any questions visitors might have.

A giant, inflatable colon might get a chuckle or two, but any publicity for this topic can help. 

In 2013, more than 50,000 people in the U.S. died from colorectal cancer, and it "is the third most common cancer in the U.S., with more than 136,000 cases expected in 2014," according to the U of M press release.

If found and treated early, the 5-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is about 90 percent. But, because many people do not get tested, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed when treatment is most likely to be successful. “Colorectal cancer is highly treatable if found in its early stages and half of all colon cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone followed the recommended screening guidelines,” says (the ACS' Alicia Gardner). “That’s why these kinds of events are so important – to get word out, spread knowledge about this disease and to get people talking about colorectal cancer screening.”

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