A look inside Mayo Clinic's gigantic colon – it's for cancer awareness

About 4.4 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with colon and rectum cancer at some point during their lifetime.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester invited people to look around inside a giant colon this week.

Don't worry, it wasn't a real colon. It was an inflatable one set up for Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

Mayo called the event the Strollin' Colon, because that's how it worked – people strolled through a massive colon. The organ is also known as the large intestine. It connects the small intestine to the rectum, and is part of the body's digestive process.

The colon tunnel was open to the public Thursday. It described the different stages of colon cancer and how they affect people. There were other exhibits along with it that gave more information on how to prevent cancer.

You can see more photos here.

About colon cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is the fourth-most common type of cancer. About 134,500 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with it last year. About 50,000 people died.

The institute says about 4.4 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with colon and rectum cancer at some point during their lifetime.

On average, a person diagnosed with colon cancer has a 65 percent chance of surviving at least five years. But it really depends what stage the cancer is at when diagnosed. If you catch it when it's localized to just one area, that jumps to 90 percent.

Rising in millennials

While colorectal cancer is most commonly diagnosed in people in their late 60s an 70s, it's rising in millennials.

A study found that between the 1980s and 2013, colon cancer rates increased about 1 to 2 percent each year for people in their 20s and 30s. The rates for middle-aged people also went up, but not quite as fast.

To prevent the disease, the American Cancer Society generally recommends people start getting regular colonoscopies – an examination of the colon – starting at age 50. However, if your family has a history of colon cancer, talk to your doctor because you might need to start sooner.

For more information on things that increase your risks, click here.

Next Up