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Volunteers work inside of Nolan the Colon to kick off National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. (Sandra Haros/KTAR)

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Department of Health Services kicked off National Colon Cancer Awareness Month on Friday with a special appearance by Nolan the Colon.

"It's a disease that does not discriminate," said Janell Hill with Colon Cancer Alliance, Central Arizona Chapter.

In 2004, Hill, the mother of three young children, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the age of 35.

"They myth is that it is an old man's disease. That's just not true."

According to statistics from the Arizona Department of Health Services, colon cancer is the number two cancer killer right behind lung cancer. When smoking-related cancers are removed from the lung cancer statistics, colon cancer rises to the top.

One-in-20 Arizonans will be diagnosed with this disease and over 970 Arizonans die each year from colorectal cancer.

According to a release from the Colon Cancer Alliance:

Nolan the Colon is a giant inflatable, interactive mega-colon, standing more than at 20' long, 12' high, and 10' wide that is deployed by the Arizona Chapter of the Colon Cancer Alliance to raise awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening. Inside Nolan there are multiple colorectal cancer messaging tools that give people a unique perspective as they walk through and actually see first-hand how a normal healthy colon can change over time into precancerous polyps that then become colorectal cancer.

Sandra Haros , Reporter

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