SELINSGROVE — A giant inflatable colon is certainly a jarring sight to behold, smack dab in the middle of the Susquehanna Valley Mall, but it's effective, according to UPMC Susquehanna registered nurse Tina Carter.

"The first time people see it, it's 'ew. a colon,'" said Carter, a unit director at UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport, on Saturday in the Boscov's court. "Once you break that barrier, people have a lot of questions. If I just had a table, people wouldn't want to talk about it."

In recognition of Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March, UPMC Susquehanna and the Susquehanna Valley Mall hosted the educational event featuring provider-guided tours through a giant inflatable colon. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of deaths in the U.S. for men and women. This is one of the many UPMC Susquehanna events during the month promoting a variety of colorectal cancer awareness initiatives.

The good news is that colon cancer is preventable and, if found early, treatable and curable, Carter said. 

"We are seeing that polyps are starting earlier," she said. "It's possibly related to diet, lack of exercise and alcohol consumption."

Starting at age 50, people should have colonoscopies every 10 years. If a person has a family history of colon cancer or are African American, Carter said the age should be 45. 

Courtney Andress, a senior at Columbia-Montour Area Vocational-Technical School, is studying health sciences and plans to move on to college to learn the surgeon technician field.

"We studied colons and other parts of the body, so some of this is actually really familiar," she said.  

The inflatable colon can usually be found once a week in the lobby of UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport, and special events throughout the year. 

Email Justin Strawser at Follow him on Twitter @JustinLStrawser.