If you’ve been putting off your first colonoscopy, pick up the phone now. One in 20 Americans receives a colon cancer diagnosis in his or her lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute, making it one of the most prevalent cancers in the United States. The good news: “It’s also largely preventable,” says Brennan Scott, M.D., chair of gastroenterology at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Colon cancer symptoms usually don’t appear until the cancer is already well advanced—so it’s crucial to know your risk factors and to get screened. Most cases occur after age 50, but you can take steps throughout your lifetime to reduce your risk.