NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – During the month of March, doctors and healthcare providers are bringing awareness to colon cancer.

They are doing so by reminding people of the importance of getting screenings and exams, but one Baptist Health doctor learned the importance of practicing what you preach.

As an M.D. at Baptist Health, Dr. K. Morgan Sauer is consistently reminding his patients to get their checkups, scans and screenings especially when it comes to colonoscopies.

“Colon cancer has really started to become far and far more prevalent in our society, especially in younger and younger people,” Dr. Sauer said.

He said that’s why the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force lowered recommendations for colonoscopies from 50 years old to 45 years old unless there’s a family history or other factors that increase your risk, then it’s even lower.

“We could actually reduce colon cancer deaths by two-thirds in this country if people would actually go get their screening colonoscopies like we’re told to do,” Dr. Sauer said.

When it came to his own health, he did not follow his own advice.

“I was not the best patient. Doctors usually aren’t and I waited until 47,” Dr. Sauer said.

He went into his screening with no signs that anything was wrong but woke up to some shocking news.

“It turns out I had tubular adenoma which is a very close precursor to actually having colon cancer,” Dr. Sauer said.

Luckily, doctors were able to take care of that during his colonoscopy, but if he waited much longer it would’ve been a different story.

“We weren’t going to be dealing with something that was handled right when I was in the middle of my colonoscopy soundly asleep. Instead, I would’ve been having surgery and probably chemo for colon cancer,” Dr. Sauer said.

He said he learned a lesson in following his own advice and can now tell patients from his own experience just how vital it is to follow doctors’ orders.

“That was a big wake-up call,” Dr. Sauer said. “I had absolutely no symptoms with mine and I was just a couple steps away from colon cancer. So, to people who say I just don’t want to go do this, it’s time to do this.”

Dr. Sauer said it’s important to talk to your primary doctor about when you should get your colonoscopy.