AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Colon cancer in women is in the spotlight after the death of Kirstie Alley.

“It’s very sad about what happened to Ms. Alley because this is one of the few diseases in medicine that we can actually find before you develop cancer to prevent it from developing downstream.”

Dr. Ken J. Vega at AU health says colon cancer is not common in women, but it should be on their radar. 

Health experts say one in 25 women will experience colon cancer in their lifetime. 

“Depending on your age, so the age, as you get older, the risk is higher,” Dr. Vega said.

Dr. Vega says there are signs to look for.  

“A change in your normal pattern of moving your bowels, secondly, if you notice that you have blood when you move your bowels that would prompt a visit. A third thing would be losing weight and not knowing why you’re losing weight.”

He says incidents like this bring more awareness to the disease. 

“Many people who have fame for whatever reason, once they develop a disease that is relatively noticeable or recognizable, you’ll see an uptick in people asking for the screening procedure.”

The screening process is the same for women as it is for men. 

“We use a colonoscope and it’s a device that’s about as wide as my index finger– for instance– lighting camera on the end, a little bit longer than my arm and what it does is it allows us to go and inspect the lining of the colon from the end to the beginning,” Dr. Vega said.

Dr. Vega says it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I’ll take better late than never, as far as I’m concerned, get the test done. Yes, we see many people here at AU that are coming for their first colonoscopy and it’s above the age that we expect them to come, but I rather have them come in than not come at all.”