Ryan Reynolds films colonoscopy to raise cancer awareness; doctors find polyp

Actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are doing their part to raise colon cancer awareness after both undergoing a colonoscopy, in which doctors found a polyp inside Reynolds. 

The two friends turned 45 years old this year and decided to make a wager around Wrexham AFC, the Welsh football team. Reynolds bet he would broadcast his colonoscopy if McElhenney learned the difficult Welsh language, which in fact he did— only a few phrases, however. 

Both men ended up getting, filming and broadcasting their colonoscopies.

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"I’ve been on camera a lot. But this was the first time one was shoved up my a**," Reynolds said in a video. "The procedure and prep were painless but the discomfort of filming and sharing the process was the hardest part. Rob and I did it because we want this potentially life-saving procedure to be less mysterious and stigmatized."


CANNES, FRANCE - JUNE 22: Ryan Reynolds speaks on stage during "Embrace Next Generation Storytelling" on June 22, 2022 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images)

Reynolds documented the procedure on YouTube. 

The video shows Reynolds going through the medical center and talking with a doctor about the procedure before it begins. 

The doctor told Reynolds he found an extremely subtle polyp inside his colon.

"This was potentially life-saving for you. I'm not kidding, I'm not being overly dramatic," the doctor said. "This is exactly why you do this. You had no symptoms."

Meanwhile, McElhenney’s colon was spotless. 

The two men worked in conjunction with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to launch the "LEAD FROM BEHIND" initiative to raise awareness. 

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"I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer at 38. I’m a trend, not a tragedy," Brooks Bell, founder of "LEAD FROM BEHIND," said. "Around one in three people has a polyp by the time they are 45. Polyps usually have no symptoms. A colonoscopy will find them, and snip them out on the spot, preventing cancer down the road! After I was diagnosed, my 35 year old sister got her first colonoscopy and they found and removed a large polyp. It may have saved her life."

Facts about colon cancer

According to the Alliance, colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer in America and can be prevented with a colonoscopy. It’s also predicted to be the top cancer killer for people under 50 by 2030.

"This year, 150,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. They don’t need to be because colon cancer is preventable," Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance said. Sapienza lost his mother to the disease in 2009.

According to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), more than 52,980 people living in the U.S. died of colorectal cancer in 2021.

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It is more common in men than in women, and the risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as a person ages.

The AACR notes that it is also more common among Black Americans than people of other races and that the median age of diagnosis in the U.S. is 67 years old.

Those who smoke, consume alcohol or are obese are more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Adopting healthy behaviors, the association said, can reduce risk.

Symptoms may include a change in bowel habits, blood in or on your stool, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss and abdominal pain, aches or cramps that don't go away.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says regular screening beginning at the age of 45 is the key to prevention, especially because colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms – especially at first.

FOX News contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.