ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – May is National Women’s Health Awareness Month and one of the leading causes of death for women is cancer. Colorectal cancer, in particular, is the third most common cancer in women, but it’s one that can often be prevented, with proper screening.

In the U.S. the incidence of colorectal cancer is very similar between men and women. According to the American Cancer Society, recent studies have shown 1 in 21 men and 1 in 23 women will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetimes.

That’s why women and men at average risk should start getting a screening colonoscopy every 10 years, beginning at age 45. However, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you should get those screenings at an earlier age.

As Dr. Mary Strader, M.D., with Gastroenterology Associates of Northern New York, explains in this weeks Women’s Health Wednesday segment, it’s important to talk to your family about any prior history with colon polyps or colorectal cancer, and then let your doctor know, so they can advise you on how to best protect yourself.

A colonoscopy is a great tool to not only check your colon but also to remove polyps before they become cancerous. For women, the risk of developing many cancers increases after menopause, so cancer screenings are vital.