Did this help save Will Smith from colon cancer?
Getting your first colonoscopy may not hold a top spot on your bucket list. But as movie star Will Smith recently discovered while recording a lighthearted vlog chronicling his first colon cancer screening, it probably should.
“There’s a certain level of commitment and embarrassment to getting healthy. You ‘gotta do it, man,” Smith said on the video.
Smith’s first colonoscopy discovered a tubular adenoma – a precancerous polyp, which, if left untreated, could have grown larger, become malignant and eventually spread to other areas of his body. Smith did not experience the typical signs of colon troubles – therefore, his condition could have progressed unnoticed.
“Timely colonoscopy screenings save lives. They can prevent colorectal cancer or detect cancer early enough to make a difference in the aggressiveness of cancer treatment options needed, as well as outcomes,” says Dr. Peter Oshin, a gastroenterologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends that anyone 50 and older should get start getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 50. If you have gastrointestinal issues or a strong family history of colorectal polyps, Dr. Oshin recommends starting colorectal cancer screenings earlier. The most important thing to do is ask your doctor what’s right for you.
“I get it. No one wants to think about the process of having photographs taken of your colon, but as you can tell from Mr. Smith’s vlog, the colonoscopy takes place under anesthesia and is relatively painless” Dr. Oshin says, adding that he has shared Smith’s vlog from his social accounts to help spread the movie star’s powerful, real-life message.
“Not only am I rooting for Mr. Smith’s vlog to reach every man and woman, I am hoping his good intentions and celebrity will help erase fears and move those who are at-risk to get screened for colon cancer,” Dr. Oshin says.
Fortunately, Smith’s precancerous polyp was removed during the colonoscopy. Now, he is at higher risk for colorectal cancer and will need to get surveyed in a couple of years with a second colonoscopy, according to his physician’s instructions.
“When I decided I wanted to shoot this as a vlog, it was more of a ‘This would be cool. This would be fun.’ I didn’t realize there would be a precancerous polyp that would get found out of it,” Smith said.
Dr. Oshin recommends speaking with your internal medicine doctor about risk factors and timing for your first colonoscopy.
About the Author
Cassie Richardson, health enews contributor, is regional coordinator on Advocate Aurora Health's Public Affairs team. She has more than 10 years of experience in health care communications, marketing, media and public relations. Cassie is a fan of musical theater and movies. When she’s not spreading the word about health and wellness advancements, she enjoys writing fiction.