FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer. However, there's now been a shift as to who it's impacting.
"What's interesting is, despite the decrease in colon cancer incidents since implementing the screening initiatives, colon cancer incidents in patients less than 50 years actually has been gradually increased -- for unclear reasons," said Dr. Juliana Yang.
According to the Division Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UCSF Fresno, the increase is troubling and urges people to get a colonoscopy at age 45.
This aligns with the American Cancer Society's recommendation, which also states people at high risk should get one sooner. It includes patients with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel diseases -- such as Kern County resident, Barbara Schryver
"I had a little bleeding when I wiped," she recalled. "I had constipation twice in six months where I had to take laxatives to get that to go."
Schryver told her doctor about the symptoms and was referred to a gastroenterologist. She had her colonoscopy two weeks later, at 46 years old.
"He said 'I found a tumor. I'm almost positive that it's cancer. I need you in surgery in two weeks,'" Schryver shared.
The now 59-year-old went through 12 rounds of chemotherapy.
"My gastroenterologist told me -- he said, 'It is by the grace of God that you are alive. If you hadn't been honest, come in and ot a screening, you would not have known until you were dying,'" Schryver said.
She and Dr. Yang urge people to pay attention and listen to their bodies.
"When you experience any difficulties or troubles with your bowel, you should really see your doctor and discuss the next best step," Dr. Yang said.
While the two women agree that conversations about trips to the toilet are uncomfortable, a colonoscopy can save you from chemotherapy or death.