Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S., and the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women, but it's also the most preventable.
March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
Dr. James C. Hobley, a member of the American College of Gastroenterology, says it begins as a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum.
Some changes of those polyps are harmless, but others turn into cancer over the course of a few years.
Hobley says a lot of advances have been made, and treatment has improved over the last few decades, but he stresses the importance of early diagnosis.
"If we find something early, like an early cancer, it is a very treatable disease that people can absolutely live a full life in spite of having had that diagnosis," he stresses.
Men and women are advised to be screened at age 50, African-Americans at 45 and anyone with a family history of the disease is urged to be tested earlier.
Hobley says people tend to put off that checkup out of fear it will be painful. He says that's not the case and says the risk you take by not going to the doctor isn't worth it.
"It's much worse of a situation than if you go get the screening done, find the polyp, get rid of the polyp," he explains. "It all takes about 30 minutes, and then you're off about your day, and you just prevented that horror story from occurring."
Hobley says people tend to take their vehicles in for a checkup more often than they go to the doctor themselves.
"That one little small rattle going, and they're in the shop," he states. "Every year we get a state inspection, but yet our bodies, which I think are more precious vehicles than our cars, are neglected. And I think people just don't think about it until it's too late."
The American Cancer Society says diets that are high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and low in red and processed meats are linked with lower colorectal cancer risk.