You’ve probably heard it said before; the only screening tool that has the power to detect and prevent colorectal cancer (CRC) is colonoscopy—not FIT tests, not CT colonoscopy, and not stool DNA tests. While other methods might seem easier or less intimidating, they simply do not deliver the benefits of colonoscopy, that is, the ability to find and remove polyps.
That said, most people going through a colonoscopy consider it a private affair. So why did a celebrity like Will Smith decide to share his with the world? Maybe because he knows that the death rate from CRC is higher for African Americans than any population group in the US, yet they are less likely to get screened. Perhaps he wants to publicize the fact that colonoscopy can actually save lives. While we cannot know his true motivation, the fact is that Smith's video blog (with almost 2.2 million views to date) has already made significant impacts by:
- Normalizing conversations about colonoscopy. Capitalizing on his gift for humor, in the vlog he asks questions like, “How far in does it [the scope] go?" and compares his prep to a murder scene.
- Encouraging others have the procedure themselves. The serious, unexpected results of his screening and the fact that it might have saved his life could influence doubters to take the plunge.
- Educating people on what can happen if you do NOT have a colonoscopy. Smith’s physician explained that African-American patients have more polyps on the right side of the colon, where they are harder to find. If these growths go undetected, they will continue “to grow and grow and grow.”