“I’ve been on camera a lot,” Reynolds said in the video posted Tuesday, with the caveat that it was the first time the camera had focused on such, well, intimate place.
It started with a bet, the actors said. Last year, the two self-proclaimed competitive friends made a bet: If McElhenney, who created and stars in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” could learn to speak Welsh, Reynolds would publicly broadcast his colonoscopy.
Despite Reynolds’ confidence in his bet, it turns out that McElhenney picked up the notoriously difficult language, or at least enough phrases to send Reynolds to the hospital with a film crew.
On his way to the procedure room, the “Deadpool” star said he wouldn’t normally undergo a medical procedure on camera. But the decision to record his colonoscopy was to raise awareness “about something that is definitely going to save lives,” Reynolds, 45, said in the video, which was made in partnership with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance and Lead From Behind, a colon . cancer awareness organization
“The procedure itself does not take much time. We’re talking 30 minutes, something like that,” a doctor told the actor as he was taken to the procedure room. “It’s amazingly effective.”
During a colonoscopy, a doctor slides a flexible tube with a small camera on the tip through the rectum and into the colon to get a closer look inside the organ. It sounds daunting, but it’s usually painless, and most patients are sedated throughout the entire process. (For those wondering: this part was not shown in the Reynolds video.)
The procedure is used to detect abnormalities in the colon, such as swelling, irritation, or tumors. But it’s also the number one preventive measure for colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, which recommends that most people get tested every 10 years starting at 45 years.
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In Reynolds’ case, the doctor found an “extremely subtle polyp,” or cluster of cells, on the right side of his colon. The doctor removed it, “interrupting the natural history … of a process that could have ended up becoming cancer and causing all kinds of problems.”
“That’s why people need to do this,” added the doctor. “They really need to do this. This saves lives. Pure and simple.”
While the death rate from colorectal cancer has decreased over the past decade among older patients, it has increased among younger people, in part due to a lack of screening in that age group. More than 52,000 people in the United States will die of colorectal cancer in 2022, the American Cancer Society has predicted.
Although Reynolds lost the bet, McElhenney, who is also 45, agreed to have a colonoscopy as well. His doctor removed three polyps, all while the actor was in a post-sedation bombardment state and struggled to eat the graham crackers, which he called “cookies,” provided by the nurse.
“Getting there on time is the key,” McElhenney’s doctor said, adding that colon cancer is a “100 percent preventable disease” if people get the recommended colonoscopies.
In recent years, colorectal cancer has received increased attention, especially after the death of Chadwick Boseman, 43-year-old “Black Panther” star, in 2020. According to the American Cancer Society, growing awareness of the importance of preventive screening has caused diagnosis rates to decline in recent decades.
National task force finalizes recommendation for early detection of colorectal cancer
Before Reynolds and McElhenney, there was journalist Katie Couric and the massive increase in colonoscopies after the procedure was done. aired in 2000.
His “Today” show segment led to an increase in colon cancer screenings for about nine months after the story aired, according to research from the University of Michigan Medical School.
Other celebrities have endorsed a variety of potentially life-saving medical treatments, from the polio vaccination campaign spearheaded by Elvis Presley to the pandemic-era pleas of Dolly Parton, Olivia Rodrigo and Jennifer Aniston. But its success has been mixed, The Washington Post previously reported.
Still, when it comes to colonoscopies, Reynolds and McElhenney attested to how relatively easy the procedures are.
“Well that didn’t seem too bad,” Reynolds shrugged as the clip ended.