- TV reporter Katie Couric reminds us of the time that she got TV host Jimmy Kimmel to have a colonoscopy performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live; Couric was raising awareness for the last day of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
- Couric, who is a huge advocate for colorectal cancer screening, famously underwent her own colonoscopy on camera live on the Today show 21 years ago.
- Top experts tell SurvivorNet about the colonoscopy process and explain what they are looking for when they insert the tube through your rectum into your colon.
The veteran comedian and writer once had a colonoscopy performed on camera, which aired on his show Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2018, and his close pal Katie Couric posted the clip yesterday to end Colorectal Cancer Month on a high note, no pun intended. Katie Couric, 64, a colorectal cancer spokesperson who lost her husband to the disease, was the orchestrator of this special segment and of course was on hand to cheer her buddy along.Read More
“Before my [50th] birthday, Katie asked if she could accompany me for my first colonoscopy, because, you know, you have to have that when you turn 50,” Kimmel explained to the show’s audience during his opening monologue. “It seemed to be an unusual request, but I know that this is something Katie’s passionate about, and it’s an important thing to do. With that said, you’re about to watch a camera go where it has never gone before.”
Couric famously had the procedure performed on her 21 years ago on the Today show, and screenings subsequently went up by 20%, and that’s when “The Couric Effect” was born.
Kimmel’s tale started with footage of him coming up the stairs just outside the studio. Couric pops up from behind a bar and he runs the other way. “Why are you doing this to me?,” Kimmel asks Couric, in a half-playful, half-serious whine as he comes back up the stairs to face the elephant in the room.
“Because you’re 50 now Jimmy, you’re a big boy,” Couric replies in a sweet, but firm, motherly tone, “and you need to get a colonoscopy.”
“Is that what big boys get?” Kimmel asks, still looking unsure of himself.
The camera cuts to an exam room where Jimmy is putting on a medical gown (first coming out in a long blue evening gown as a well-produced joke for the show), “Is this the wrong gown?”
Meanwhile, Couric gets in PSA mode in the hallway, but keeps the mood light and playful as she talks to the camera. “Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer for men and women combined in this country, so that’s why it’s so important to get screened … and Jimmy’s pretty psyched,” Couric says with an overly cheery, sarcastic smile.
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When Kimmel is situated in the proper medical gown, laying on a hospital bed, he looks over to Couric who is at his bedside, “I’m telling you, I’ve met some real perverts in my life, but you take the cake Katie Couric,” Kimmel says. Couric thanks him, laughing, as Kimmel continues on about this “unusual, sexual-” she cuts him off, saying that it’s not sexual. “Oh it’s not, then what am I doing here?”
When the doctor comes in, Couric asks why she thinks more people are not getting screened, and Kimmel cuts in loudly, “Because they go up your ass, that’s why!” The doctor reassures him that most people look at her and say, “That’s it?” when they’re done. Couric turns a little more serious with Kimmel, saying that “people may not think it sounds fun, but it’s a lot more fun than getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer.”
When Kimmel awakens from the procedure, Couric comes in with a balloon and a bowl of items, jokingly saying that they found some keys and a harmonica. The doctor shows him the inside of his colon, which is also shown on camera, saying that it was clean and healthy, with no polyps. Kimmel groggily thanks Couric, and there you have it! History in the making, and potentially a “Kimmel Effect” around the corner.
How to Prep for a Colonoscopy
In Kimmel’s segment, Couric made him drink a clear liquid laxative the day before, which is part of the prep for a colonoscopy. A top colorectal cancer expert goes over this preparation with SurvivorNet.
“A colonoscopy is a procedure where you have your entire gut cleaned out … and then they use a scope, a colonoscope, to look at the intestine with basically a magnifying glass. So they go through your colon and look at every little inch of your colon, looking for precursors to cancer or polyps,” Dr. Heather Yeo from Weill Cornell Medicine tells us. “To clean out for a colonoscopy, there’s a number of different preps you can take. Most of them make you sit on the toilet all night and have diarrhea. That’s probably one of the worst things that patients are anxious about with a colonoscopy and why people often don’t get colonoscopy.”
Plus, you’re not supposed to eat anything solid all day the day before. Clear liquids or light broths are fine. But one day of fasting is worth keeping yourself alive for many years to come.
Dr. Yeo understands that having a bowel prep is not the most enticing thing, “but colon cancer is preventable if you have your colonoscopy and if you’re screened. And we know in the United States, colon cancer rates have gone down since we’ve started colorectal cancer screening with colonoscopy. And so it’s really important that people get their colonoscopy.”
Learning About Polyps
A colonoscopy can be done for many different issues, but for a cancer screening specifically, doctors are looking for polyps, which are small growths on the inner lining of your intestine or rectum.
“When we see a polyp, we actually physically take the polyp out through the colonoscope,” Dr. Zuri Murrell from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles tells SurvivorNet. This means they put a wire through and pull the polyp out, which Dr. Murrell notes is not painful, since there are no pain fibers inside the colon.
“What happens is then when we take the polyp out, we send that to a lab. In about 5 to 10 business days, we get the results back. So when it’s in the lab, a pathologist basically cuts up the little polyp and looks under a microscope,” he says. “And underneath the microscope, they can decide whether or not it is early cancer or whether it is just a precancerous polyp.”
Ninety-five percent of polyps are precancerous polyps, which means it’s not cancer yet, but “it would have been a cancer ultimately if you just let it grow and grow and grow.”
Once the polyp is removed, you need to follow up with another checkup in three to five years to make sure there’s not another growth.