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Ryan Reynolds’ Potentially 'Life-Saving' Colonoscopy

Cancer Care
Author name: Lee Health

Colonoscopy graphic

Ryan Reynolds’ latest film went straight to video. And for good reason—to increase awareness about the benefit of a colonoscopy screenings.

Getting one, as Reynolds experienced, may just save your life.

Colorectal cancer, which includes colon and rectal cancer, is the third-most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S., after lung and breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Association.

About 150,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year—18,000 of whom will be younger than 50.

“In the past decade, the rate of new colorectal cancer cases has been increasing in younger people,” says Dr. Khalid Alam, a board-certified gastroenterologist with Lee Physician Group. “A 2013 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that millennials and Generation Xers have twice the incidence rates of colon cancer and four times the rate of rectal cancer than people born around 1950 and earlier. That’s why early screening and prevention are so important.”

Ryan Reynolds photo

Actor Ryan Reynolds

Reynolds and a friend, both of whom turned 45 this year, went public with their colonoscopies to highlight new guidelines lowering the age of colon screening from 50 to 45.

“Part of being this age is getting a colonoscopy. It’s a simple step that could literally — and I mean literally — save your life,” Reynolds said in the video.

A colonoscopy involves using a tiny camera to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopy is also used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of these other screening tests.

During Reynolds’ procedure, his doctor found a small polyp that could have led to colon cancer, which he removed.

“This was potentially lifesaving for you,” Reynolds’ doctor told him afterward. “I’m not kidding. I’m not being overly dramatic. This is exactly why you do this. You had no symptoms.”

Don’t ignore these symptoms

Doctors say that common symptoms include rectal bleeding, unexplained weight loss or fatigue, cramping in the lower abdomen, and a change in bowel habits. Don’t ignore them. Make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation.

To learn more about Dr. Khalid Alam and the specialists at the Lee Health gastroenterology department, visit here.