Actor Ryan Reynolds has allowed cameras to follow him while having a colonoscopy. Along with his YouTube co-host Rob McElhenney, Reynolds wants to raise awareness about colon cancer and demonstrate how to get screened for early warning signs.
What Reynolds probably wasn’t expecting was for the doctor to inform him that they found an “extremely subtle polyp.” This is a small growth of cells in the colon. These can usually prove harmless but can sometimes develop into cancerous tumors.
Reynolds and McElhenney are co-chairmen of the Welsh soccer club, Wrexham FC. They’re both 45 and decided it was a good time to start screening themselves for colon cancer.
Reynolds bet McElhenney that if his friend learned Welsh, he would allow himself to be filmed. McElhenney duly learned Welsh.
A colonoscopy involves a doctor inserting a camera into your anus to see inside your rectum and lower bowels.
“It’s a simple step that could literally, and I mean literally, save your life,” explains Reynolds.
The video was made in partnership with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.
After the 25-minute procedure, Reynolds’ doctor informs him about the polyp. He tells the Deadpool star, “This was potentially life-saving for you — I’m not kidding, I’m not being overly dramatic. This is exactly why you do this. You had no symptoms.”
Poly removed before it turns dangerous
Doctors advise that polyps, when discovered, are removed. Reynolds’ doctor excises the one he finds and explains the reasons why to the actor. He shows him an image of the polyp on a screen.
“You are interrupting the natural history of a disease of something of a process that could have ended up developing into cancer and causing all sorts of problems.”
McElhenney is also filmed going for his colonoscopy. It reveals three small polyps, which his doctors also removed during the procedure.
Anyone over the age of 45 is advised to consider having a regular colonoscopy to detect the early signs of colon cancer. Some stool-based tests can also be done, but if any abnormal results are found, a colonoscopy is recommended as a follow-up.
Anal pap smears can also be done from around the same age, to detect the earliest stages of anal cancer.