March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancers diagnosed in the U.S., and it's also one of the most preventable. Dr. Matthew Kalady, of the Cleveland Clinic, says having a colonoscopy can stop cancer in its tracks.
"Colorectal cancer is a preventable disease if you catch it early enough, and colonoscopy is one of those tests that if you get it early and you get to the polyps before they become cancer, you can stop cancer from happening," he said.
According to Dr. Kalady, things like age, being overweight, and smoking can put you at a higher risk for colon cancer, but one of the most important risk factors is your own family medical history.
"Family history is probably the most important thing you need to know," he said.
"It doesn’t necessarily mean if someone in you family has cancer that you have a syndrome, but it puts you at a little bit higher risk; it’s important not just for colorectal cancer but for any diseases in your family just to really understand what’s going on in your family."
He adds that if you have any type of bleeding during a bowel movement, change in bowel habits, unexplained stomach pain, or are losing weight without trying, you should check with your doctor.