WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WVNS) — March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and The Greenbrier Clinic is promoting getting screened.

Nothing is more important than one’s health, especially when there are ways to significantly reduce your chances of getting a diagnosis. Dr. Byrd Leavell, MD, Gastroenterologist at The Greenbrier Clinic, said the risk of getting colon cancer is one in 23 for people over over the age of 50.

“With colon cancer, there are 50,000 deaths a year and colon cancer screening has remarkably reduced that every year since 1980,” Dr. Leavell said.

Dr. Leavell said you should start getting checked by age 45.

“There’s some young people getting it so the American Cancer Society has reduced the screening age to age 45,” Dr. Leavell. “They recommend you get a colonoscopy every 10 years and if you have family history, maybe every five years.”

There are several signs indicating that you should get screened earlier than 45, such as a family history of colon cancer, bowel changes or even bleeding.

“Rectal bleeding is a big red flag that you should get checked out,” Dr. Leavell said.

Dr. Leavell said the procedure is easier today than ever before thanks to new technology. In fact, he said they are single focus, meaning he only focuses on gastroenterology, colonoscopy, and endoscopy.