‘Super colon’ to visit Auburn


AUBURN — Check your insides out.

That’s the pitch behind next month’s display of a 20-foot-long, 8-foot-tall replica of a human colon, dubbed the “Super Colon.”

On April 15, the creation will be inflated inside the Auburn Mall, complete with a walkway, paid staff and pink polyps the size of basketballs.

It ought to stir folks’ curiosity, said Suzette Smith, who travels with the display for the Virginia-based Prevent Cancer Foundation.

The display has been shown in more than 200 cities since 2005. At each stop, gawkers go through the Winnebago-sized colon.

“People just flock to it,” she said.

Of course, there is also a serious reason for the visit: Colon cancer is particularly preventable.

“If it is detected early, it is successfully treated 90 percent of the time,” said Mark Turcotte, a spokesman for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing at Lewiston’s Central Maine Medical Center. “Yet, it’s the second leading cancer killer in the U.S.”

As the center began looking at ways to acknowledge March as national colorectal cancer awareness month, someone spotted the display. It was booked for March but it was free for April 15, a day with its own uncomfortable associations.

Perhaps if people were less squeamish about colon health, fewer people would die, Turcotte said.

So, humor becomes a weapon.

When the Dempsey Center announced the visit this week, fliers circulated describing the “incredible, inflatable, interactive colon.”

Smith hopes the display will educate people about the need for screenings, which are typically conducted for people who either have a family history of colon cancer or have reached their 50th birthday.

Visitors get a glimpse of healthy colon tissue as well as polyps, cancer tissue and disorders such as colitis.

“People say you go in with a laugh and come out with something serious,” Smith said.

The Super Colon was created several years ago as part of a larger display that allowed people to see inside the human body.

The other pieces were retired, but the colon keeps on going.

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