It was a first for actor Ryan Reynolds, who allowed a video crew to film his colonoscopy performance on camera to raise awareness of the rise in colon cancer diagnoses among people under the age of 50. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society.
“It’s not every day that you raise awareness of something that will save lives. That’s enough motivation for me to let him get on camera,” Reynolds said in the video shared with the public.
“Did they find Rosebud up there?” Reynolds asks a nurse when the procedure is over.
Actor Rob McElhenney, who created and starred in the comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” joined Reynolds on the project and even underwent a videotaped colonoscopy.
“If they find a polyp, it’s either bigger than hers, which is awesome, or smaller than hers, which means I’m less likely to get cancer. I’m going to win either way,” McElhenney told the camera as he awaited his procedure.
While joking and teasing each other, Reynolds and McElhenney made it clear that they were there to raise awareness about the new guidelines to lower the colon screening age from 50 to 45.
“Rob and I, we turned 45 this year,” Reynolds said in the video. “And you know, part of being this age is getting a colonoscopy. It’s literally – and I mean literally – a simple step that could save your life.”
Reynolds’ procedure, conducted by CBS Chief Medical Correspondent Jonathan LaPoo, found him. a small polyp in the actor’s colon.
“You did such a good prep that I was able to find a very subtle polyp on the right side of your colon,” LaPook told a sleepy Reynolds after the procedure.
“This was life saving for you. I’m not kidding. I’m not being overly dramatic. That’s why you do it,” LaPook added.
During McElhenney’s procedure, Los Angeles gastroenterologist Dr. Leo Treyzon found three very small polyps.
“It wasn’t a big deal, but it’s definitely a good thing we found it early and got it out,” Treyzon told the actor in recovery.
McElhenney, who acted happy to have beat Reynolds’ only polyp, then asked the doctor what he could do to prevent it from happening again.
There’s still no good evidence that dietary changes can make a difference, Treyzon replied, “but what makes a difference is screening and surveillance.”
Reynolds and McElhenney are chairmen of Welsh Football Club Wrexham AFC, a fifth-tier football club founded in 1864 in a dying Welsh mining town. Both invested in the club to bring life back to the community. The trip inspired a docuseries on FX called “Welcome to Wrexham.”
“You know, the heart of all sports is competition, and Rob and I think we’re pretty competitive guys,” Reynolds said during the video’s introduction. “We’re so competitive, in fact last year Ryan and I made a bet,” added McElhenney.
The bet was that if McElhenney could learn to speak Welsh, Reynolds would perform a public colonoscopy.
“We?” Reynolds replied innocently. “I don’t remember that.”
When McElhenney begins to explain the bet in Welsh, Reynolds breaks down and admits that he made the bet.
The new video, made in collaboration with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance and Lead From Behind, another colon cancer organization, did not show the same colonoscopy procedure for either Reynolds or McElhenney. The video only showed sedation and recovery.
In contrast, former “Today” host Katie Couric aired her entire procedure in 2000: from the previous night’s preparations to Couric relaxing lightly while watching the proceedings.
To perform a colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist inserts a flexible tube equipped with a tiny camera into the rectum and throughout the colon to look for small growths called polyps that can turn into cancer.
“I have a nice little colon,” Couric said with a sleepy laugh as she watched the video projection from the scope inside her colon. “You haven’t entered the scope yet, have you?” asked Couric, whose husband died of colon cancer at age 42 in 1998.
“Yes! We are studying. We’re almost done,” said his doctor, Dr. Kenneth Forde, who taught at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons for nearly 40 years. Forde died in 2019.
Like Couric’s experience show, the procedure is relativity painless, even awake. However, like Reynolds and McElhenney, most people are more relaxed and rarely wake up during a colonoscopy.
Couric posted on Reynolds’ Instagram account in response to the video: “Go Ryan! (Wait! You already did!) thanks for spreading the word!”