SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – March is colorectal cancer awareness month and the rate of colorectal cancer has been rising steadily in people under the age of 50 since the 1990s.

As a result, medical professionals have changed the recommended age for colorectal screenings from 50 to 45 years old. Physicians at Baystate Medical Center say early screening is closely linked to survival rates. While there are many ways to screen for colon cancer, the most effective way is a colonoscopy.

“Preventative care like this is broadly covered by many insurance providers. Some patients who have a strong family history of colon cancer, especially other family members who have had colon cancer at a young age, may need to undergo a colonoscopy at an even earlier age,” Dr. Daniel Fish, Colorectal Surgeon Baystate Medical Center told 22News.

Dr. Fish adds that little is known about what is causing the rise in colon cancer cases among younger people, but it is very troubling.