NORFOLK, Neb. -- While many associate the month of March with college basketball and St. Patrick's Day, it's also Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and one northeast Nebraska hospital system is educating the public on colon health.

"It's one of the more commonly diagnosed types of cancer,” gastroenterologist Jacob Morrill said. "Also, one of the deadliest forms of cancer than too. It's a very serious diagnosis in itself."

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance estimates there will be 153,020 people diagnosed with Colon Cancer and 52,550 people who will die from it in 2023.

Morrill said that screenings, including colonoscopies, are the most important step in stopping Colon Cancer.

In recent years, the guidelines for colonoscopy screenings have changed. 

"The guidelines are set for ages 45 to 75. After 75, it becomes an individualized discussion with each patient," Morrill said. "There are those situations where someone has had a family member, a first-degree relative, so a sibling, a parent that was diagnosed with Colon Cancer. If this is before the age of 60, screenings need to start earlier than 45."

Morrill added that some other ways people can keep their colons healthy is with a balanced diet and by avoiding processed or frozen foods.

He also recommends having a regular exercise routine.

Morrill told News Channel Nebraska some symptoms people may experience that relate to problems with their colon.

"Are we having some new blood within the stool? Are we having a lot of stool thinning? Is there a lot more urgency or feeling like incomplete emptying? A lot of things like that are those red flag signs for Colon Cancer," he said.

For more information about colon health, click here.