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“America’s Got Talent” judge Heidi Klum recently took some memorable photos of not herself, but her colon.
She used it to raise awareness about the importance of colon cancer screening.
The 49-year-old recently shared this on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” She underwent a colonoscopy as she celebrated her third wedding anniversary with husband German guitarist Tom Kaulitz.
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He suffers from a type of migraine known as a cluster headache – so the pair went on a wellness retreat in Austria.
“Usually my pictures are from the outside, but they’re all inside,” Klum told comedian Nicole Byer, a guest host on the late-night show two weeks ago.
She was told the intestines were 8 meters long, but admitted “the pictures were not very good”.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a screening test, usually performed by doctors who specialize in the gastrointestinal tract. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), screening is done on people who don’t have any symptoms.
“There are multiple ways to screen for colon cancer, including colonoscopy, stool testing, and imaging (virtual colonography),” said Dr. Avinash Ketwaroo, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut.
“The advantage of colonoscopy is that precancerous polyps can be detected and removed in the same procedure.”
According to the CDC, nearly all colorectal cancers develop from abnormal growths in the colon or rectum, known as precancerous polyps.
The health agency notes that a colonoscopy will show if there are any precancerous polyps — so they can be removed before they have a chance of turning into cancer.
“The advantage of colonoscopy is that precancerous polyps can be detected and removed in the same procedure, so colorectal cancer can be prevented,” said Dr. David Greenwald, director of clinical gastroenterology and endoscopy at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
For most people, the benefits outweigh the risks
Greenwald told Fox News Digital that colonoscopy is generally safe, well tolerated, and has minimal risks, but there are some complications to be aware of before agreeing to surgery.
These include complications related to sedation and bleeding risk, “which are estimated to occur in approximately every 1,000 surgeries.”
“For colonoscopy, the benefits of detecting and preventing colorectal cancer are enormous and far outweigh the risks.”
Another rare complication, as the endoscope goes into the colon, is “perforation, or a hole in the bowel, which occurs in about 3,000 to 1 person” [in] 5,000 programs. “
“All medical procedures have risks,” Greenwald said. “For colonoscopy, the benefits of detecting and preventing colorectal cancer are enormous and far outweigh the risks.”
Don’t worry about “preparing”
Still, many patients are cautious about having a colonoscopy because of the need to remove stool from the colon. Preparations require frequent trips to the bathroom before surgery.
“Preparing for a colonoscopy is often considered the worst part of the procedure—comedians have developed entire routines on the topic,” Greenwald added.
“However, newer and better preparation solutions are available, and complete colonoscopy preparation can be achieved using less fluid volumes than previously thought.”
When “prep” is done — with a smaller amount of liquid and a better tasting solution — it’s usually “not as bad as one might expect,” Greenwald notes.
But some people prefer to opt for less invasive screening methods.
Stool tests and other screenings
Greenwald told Fox News Digital that while other screening tests can be used to detect polyps, if polyps are detected, a colonoscopy will be needed later to remove them.
Some less invasive screening tests are stool-based tests that look for blood in the stool, such as FIT or stool immunochemical tests, he added.
“Colonoscopy remains the most effective way to reduce the overall risk of colon cancer.”
These tests are usually done annually; according to the CDC, patients receive a test kit and use a stick or brush to obtain one or more urine samples.
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The samples are then sent back to the lab, where they are checked for the presence of blood.
Another type of stool test, called the FIT-DNA test, looks for blood in the stool and “abnormal fragments of DNA that may be shed from polyps or cancer,” Greenwald noted, and is commercially known as Cologuard.
The test, which is performed every three years, requires patients to collect complete bowel movements, which are then sent to a lab to look for the presence of “altered DNA” and blood, according to the CDC.
“Colonoscopy remains the most effective way to reduce the overall risk of colon cancer,” Ketwaroo said. “It allows us to find precancerous polyps and remove them, and to identify colon cancer earlier when it’s easier to treat.”
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This is a more efficient ‘one-step approach’ compared to a ‘two-step approach based on stool testing,’ where if stool testing is abnormal, a second step, colonoscopy, is required to complete the screening continuum,” Greenwall said. De add.
When should colonoscopy be performed again?
Greenwald noted that national guidelines generally recommend colonoscopies for average-risk individuals every 10 years.
However, stool tests need to be done more frequently to be effective.
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Klum admitted that she was “a little late” for the colonoscopy because she was 50 years old.
“Recently, the recommended age for first screening has been lowered from 50 to 45,” Ketwaroo said.
“This reflects growing awareness among young patients [having] Colon cancer. “
Klum said her colonoscopy was normal.
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But if a colonoscopy shows a precancerous polyp — then, depending on the type of polyp, “a shorter interval, usually three to five years, is needed when colon polyps are found on the initial examination,” Greenwald noted.
“Patients who once had colon polyps are at higher risk for subsequent colon polyps and require more rigorous monitoring.”