SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – March is colorectal cancer awareness month. Doctors advise that it is a good idea to get screened, especially because doctors are seeing rising rates of colorectal cancer, even in people under the age of 50.

Blue was color of the day for the endoscopy team at Baystate Medical Center, blue being the color representing colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most often diagnosed cancer in the U.S. and since the ’90s, rates of this cancer have been increasing in young people by one to two percent every year. However, it can be prevented with screening.

Dr. Rony Ghaoui, the Director of Endoscopy at Baystate Medical Center told 22News, “About a third of Americans still don’t do a screening for colon cancer. I think this is one of the tests that if detected early can make a big difference.”

Ghaoui said there are many ways to screen for colon cancer however a colonoscopy is the most accurate, “Cancer is curable very often, especially if it’s caught in time. You don’t want to wait until you have symptoms to have a colonoscopy.”

Colorectal cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. However, if it’s caught early, survival rates can be as high as 90-percent. Screening should start for people at the age of 45, earlier if you have a first degree relative who was diagnosed with the disease.

Nurse Manager Cristina Parent has been having screenings since she was 22 because she has a family history of the disease. “They have found a precancerous polyp on myself, so I come every three years. It’s just so important for people to get screened at an early age,” she said.

Nurses say the most difficult part of the colonoscopy takes place before you get to the hospital.

“Once you get here we have such an amazing team that we make everyone really comfortable and get them through it -and they usually say they don’t remember a thing and they wish they hadn’t worried about it as much as they had,” expressed Baystate Medical Center Nurse, Kim Curtin.

If you think it’s time for screening yourself. make sure to have that conversation with your physician first.