On Tuesday, March 19, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, will host its National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month event featuring a new 20-foot-long inflatable replica of the human colon. Open to the public as a way to encourage education and prevention of colon cancer, attendees can travel through the interactive colon which can help to lessen the fear of colon cancer screenings such as a colonoscopy by showing the benefits of early detection and polyp removal, greatly improving survival for the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. The free event takes place from 9:00am to 4:00 pm at the Cooperman Family Pavilion at Saint Barnabas Medical Center located at 94 Old Short Hills Road in Livingston, N.J.

In addition to the inflatable colon, a da Vinci Surgical System robot will also be available for the public to “test drive.” The da Vinci Surgical System is designed to help surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery, including surgery for colorectal cancer, through the control of specialized instruments and a miniaturized camera, resulting in shorter recovery times, less risk of infection and less pain for patients.

Although colorectal cancer is the third-leading cancer killer among men and women in the U.S., it is a preventable, treatable and curable disease if caught early. The best way to catch colorectal cancer early, however, is to screen for it. Despite the widespread availability of highly effective screening tests, colorectal cancer screening still lags far behind screening for cancers such as breast (mammography), cervical (Pap smear) and prostate (PSA test). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 59 percent of people of screening age go through with today’s available tests.

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“There are fewer tests that are more beneficial than a colonoscopy – colonoscopy screenings not only allow for the detection of colon cancer, but also allow for the removal of benign polyps or growth before they develop into cancer,” said Mark E. Gilder, MD, colon and rectal surgeon at Saint Barnabas Medical Center and member of Barnabas Health Medical Group.

Throughout the event, Dr. Gilder, along with staff from The Cancer Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center will be available to answer questions about colon health, disease prevention and screenings, and available treatments for colon diseases

“At the present time, it’s recommended that people begin screening for colorectal cancer at age 50,” said Dr. Gilder. “There has been a lot of talk to drop the starting age down to 45, but, as of now, if you have no family history of colon cancer the age to begin screening is 50 for both men and women.”

If nothing is found, it is recommended to get a screening every ten years. If polyps are detected, it is recommended that the individual have another surveillance colonoscopy in three to five years.  However, individuals with a you have first degree relative diagnosed with colorectal cancer, should get screened ten years prior to the age of the family member when they were diagnosed.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. More information can be found at https://www.rwjbh.org/events/event/?event=6973.

About Saint Barnabas Medical Center
Since 1865, Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC), New Jersey’s oldest nonsectarian hospital, has worked to exceed our community’s highest expectations for compassionate, comprehensive health care.  The 597-bed institution is one of the largest health care providers in the state, treating more than 35,000 inpatients and more than 90,000 Emergency Department patients each year. The Medical Center and the Saint Barnabas Ambulatory Care Center provide treatment and services for more than 300,000 outpatient visits annually. Saint Barnabas Medical Center has long been recognized as a leader in providing the highest level of patient care—delivering nearly 6,000 babies annually which is one of the largest programs in the state, caring for more newly diagnosed cancer patients, creating breakthroughs in the field of infertility, and providing more than 100 medical and surgical specialty and subspecialty services. For more information, call 1-888-724-7123 or visit www.barnabashealth.orb/sbmc.  Saint Barnabas Medical Center is located 94 Old Short Hills Road, Livingston, NJ 07039.