Sports radio and Atlanta Eats host Steak Shapiro let the Piedmont video crew follow his journey prepping for and undergoing his first colonoscopy.
At 48 years old, Shapiro decided to undergo the colon cancer screening to have a better picture of his health. Colon cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and colonoscopies remain the best screening tool for this type of cancer.
“It’s not something you think about a lot because there [can be] no symptoms in colon cancer,” he says.
The night before a colonoscopy
The first step to a successful colonoscopy is a clean colon. That’s where the prep comes in 24 hours before the procedure:
Drink the prescribed amount of cleansing solution (Shapiro added lemonade mix to make his drink more palatable), which acts as a laxative. Generally, you must drink the first two liters of the solution the night before the screening, then the second two liters four to six hours before the exam. Follow your physician’s instructions.
Drink only clear liquids.
Do not eat solid foods.
“Basically, you’re flushing your system out so when you go tomorrow for the procedure, you’re in a good position to have it done – no pun intended!”
The morning of the colonoscopy
Despite the hype, Shapiro says colonoscopy prep “was not really a big deal. It was a few extra trips to the bathroom, but not nearly as dramatic as people make it out to be.”
When Shapiro asked if there was anything he couldn't do for the rest of the day after the procedure, his physician joked, “You can’t make any important decisions,” to which Shapiro replied, “Can I choose where to have dinner? Is that an important decision? To me, that’s a big decision.”
How colonoscopies help prevent colon cancer
Colon cancer may be deadly, but in many cases, it is preventable. Screenings are a crucial part of prevention.
“We’ve known now for a couple of decades that regular colonoscopies can prevent the formation of colon cancer,” says Jay Singh, M.D., a colorectal surgeon at Piedmont who administered Shapiro’s exam. “By catching cancer in its earliest, most formative stage as polyps, we know cancer can be prevented.”
Colon cancer risk in people under 50
Dr. Singh says researchers are now focusing on colon cancer risk in people aged 30 to 50, like Shapiro.
“We know we’ve made an impact in people aged 50 to 70. We know we’ve decreased colon cancer risk in that age group. But we don’t really have screening guidelines for people younger than 50.”
The colonoscopy procedure and results
After the anesthesiologist administered anesthesia, Shapiro was wheeled back to the exam room for his colonoscopy. After the exam, Dr. Singh delivered the good news: While Shapiro had two small polyps in his colon, they were small and benign (not cancerous).
“We know the polyps, as they grow larger, have a higher risk of becoming cancerous, so the very smallest polyps, the ones we try to identify here, have basically zero risk of cancer,” says Dr. Singh. “But we don’t leave polyps behind to assess that kind of risk.”
“Is that some sort of new documentary?” says Shapiro. “No polyp left behind?”
Shapiro then asked Dr. Singh if he did a good job with his colonoscopy prep steps.
“You did a great job,” replied Dr. Singh. Then joked, “It’s always good to be anal about your prep.”
Why colon cancer screening is crucial
“A colonoscopy for Steak Shapiro was one of the [most] important things he could have done today,” says Dr. Singh. “Obviously, the finding of two small polyps, which may or may not have been a problem in the future, should help him feel he is being proactive in his healthcare.”
“It’s a relief,” says Shapiro. “I’m in the sports business and it’s all about hype. I think there’s a lot of hype about people worrying about a colonoscopy that they don’t have to worry about. The whole thing was easy. Easy cheesy.”
Learn more about cancer prevention and screenings.