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40-foot inflatable colon at Missouri Capitol is aimed at creating cancer awareness

40-foot inflatable colon at Missouri Capitol is aimed at creating cancer awareness

American Cancer Society advocates and other cancer survivors pose near a 40-foot inflatable colon at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City (2022 file photo courtesy of American Cancer Society spokesman Michael DuPre)

The American Cancer Society warns that about 38,000 Missourians will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

Cancer survivors and advocates from across Missouri are traveling to Jefferson City this morning to ask state lawmakers to make cancer policy a priority. They will have a 40-foot inflatable colon inside the Missouri Capitol, which will include malignant polyps.

Cancer advocates will call for Medicaid expansion, saying expansion is linked with improved rates of colorectal, prostate and cervical cancer screenings. The state Department of Social Services’ (DSS) website says the number of Missourians receiving Medicaid benefits has gone up for at least 11 straight months, increasing from 1.2 million in February 2022 to more than 1.4 million people in January 2023.

The cancer survivors and other volunteers are asking lawmakers to make fighting cancer a priority. Advocates will also ask lawmakers to preserve access to tobacco prevention and cessation services.

Governor Mike Parson (R) was in Columbia in August to announce the largest single investment into tobacco cessation in state history. The program was increased from $50,000 to $2.5 million in general revenue.  Governor Parson told 939 the Eagle that day that 11,000 deaths are caused by smoking in Missouri every year, adding that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and premature death in Missouri.