SIKESTON -- An overall healthy lifestyle and other factors can reduce cancer mortality in the United States by as much as 30 percent, the American Cancer Society says.
"There's tons of things people can do to prevent cancer. For starters, they can quit smoking, eat healthier and exercise regularly," said Kim Davis, American Cancer Society public relations specialist for Sikeston, Cape Girardeau, Springfield and Joplin.
The most recent guidelines completed by the American Cancer Society in 2001, recommend dietary and physical activity patterns to maintain a healthy body weight and reduce cancer risk.
And according to ACS, one of the best ways to facilitate a healthy dietary and physical behaviors is through community action.
For this reason alone, the Scott County Health Department, American Cancer Society, Missouri Delta Medical Center and several other local organizations are focusing on educating the public for October's National Breast Cancer Awareness campaign.
"Education is the key in preventing cancer. We want the public to be aware there are steps they can take to detect cancer early on," noted Mary Carolyn Adams, registered radiology technologist for the mammography unit at Missouri Delta Medical Center.
In addition to exercise and nutrition, some of the preventative steps include knowing family history and regular screenings. For example, with breast cancer, women over the age of 40 should have a mammogram every year; women between 20 and 39 should have a clinical breast exam every year; and all women should do a breast self-examination every month, according to ACS.
Scheduled for Oct. 7 from noon to 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 1101 N. Main St., the luncheon is an effort to educate area women about the risks associated with breast cancer.
"Last year we had a good turn out. Over 100 women attended the luncheon so it was a success," noted Brenda Freed, health educator for the Scott County Health Department.
A guest speaker and fashion show will also take place during the luncheon, along with chances to win free mammograms.
It appears community actions like the upcoming luncheon are getting across to the public, Adams said.
Since she began working in the mammography unit in 1985, Adams noted she has definitely seen an increase of knowledge by the public to get screenings for cancers, and in particular, for breast cancer.
"I have noticed, too, with breast cancer, an increased mortality rate of those who have cancer. The (breast cancer) survival rate is so much higher. Women are learning to check themselves early," Davis said.
Oct. 7 is also Tell a Friend Tuesday, when women are encouraged to call five of their female friends and relay the message to get checked for breast cancer.
"Spreading the word is the best way to educate the public," Davis said. "And if you take care of your body and know how it works then you'll notice when something's wrong with it."
Luncheon tickets are $3 and can be purchased in advance at the Scott County Health Department or the American Cancer Society in Sikeston, or they can be purchased at the door. For more information, call (573) 471-1823.