BRIDGTON — Colorectal cancer is the third-deadliest cancer in the United States, accounting for an estimated 9 percent of cancer deaths in both men and women and is expected to cause nearly 51,000 deaths this year.

However, if detected early, it’s 90 percent treatable.

Susan Rivet, director of outpatient services for Bridgton Hospital, said Friday it’s important to get the message out that colon and rectal cancer is a real danger, and that people should have themselves checked.

To help get the word out, Rivet helped get a 10-foot-high inflatable colon display to Bridgton Hospital, with help from pharmaceutical company Sanofi. With larger-than-life, three-dimensional polyps, the exhibit was an eye-opener.

Rivet said the exhibit had seen a steady crowd. Refreshments were served, including chips, popcorn and hot dogs.

“We know that certain foods can maybe contribute” to colon cancer, Rivet said, and the nitrates in cured meats are thought to be one contributor.

She said it is important people eat foods such as hot dogs and bacon in moderation, and look for foods such as broccoli, yogurt, tuna and sweet potatoes, which are thought to lower cancer risk.

Friday was the end of National Hospital Week. Rivet said that rather than just hold a cookout for hospital employees, she wanted to get the community present and involved. “We need to be the ones out in the community meeting people,” she said.

By that standard, the day was a success. Visitors to the colon display were interested in how they could prevent colorectal cancer. “We’ve had some really good questions today,” Rivet said.

For more information, visit http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/.

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