Do you know what the actor, Will Smith, did? He got a colonoscopy. In doing so he was able to find out critical information that may change the course of his future. Let’s talk about colonoscopies, when and why you need one, how it works, risks and alternative options.
Where is the Colon?
When I think of colonoscopies I think of a universe-sized telescope looking into the future of our colon health. The colon is your large intestine, the tube that is part of your gastrointestinal system used for absorption of water and nutrients and elimination of waste…ummm… well…poop. Due to exposure of chemicals from our air, water and food, genetic factors and inflammatory conditions, the colon is a place that cancer can grow and hide.
What is a Colonoscopy?
Colon cancer is often prevented by finding and removing precancerous polyps during a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a procedure where you first drink laxatives to remove any and all feces from the large intestines in order for the doctor to see the lining of the intestines clearly. Then, under light anesthesia, a gastroenterologist inserts a camera into the rectum and up through the intestines to look around. If any irritations are seen they are noted. If any finger-like projections, called polyps, are found they are removed and sent to the lab to evaluate their risk of being cancerous. After the procedure and the anesthesia wears off there might be a fair amount of gas released. Then you can go about your business. If, once the lab result is in, the doctor reports that precancerous polyps were found you may need to get colonoscopies regularly. If none were found and there are no great risk factors, you may not need one for another 10 years. ]
Worth the Risk
There are some risks associated with colonoscopies. Mainly a risk of damage to the wall of the intestines and risk of infection, but these are rare. The alternative is to perform a CT scan of the area, but a CT scan gives off a lot of radiation that we try to avoid because radiation itself can cause cancer.
What Does this have to do with Will Smith?
Will Smith went ahead and put his colonoscopy experience on a vlog for all to see. That’s pretty wonderful because once you turn 50, it’s a great idea to start getting colonoscopies and he was able to show that it’s not this scary, embarrassing thing. It’s just a tool to use to keep your future looking bright.
Get your colonoscopy if you are 50+.