Relay For Life, Events Focus on Cancer Prevention Awareness
CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY- NY “Every month is cancer prevention month.”
That is the statement by Michael Porpiglia, Community Executive of the American Cancer Society, when asked about February’s distinction as Cancer Awareness Month.
While the media provides a multitude of information on all aspects of health, the American Cancer Society in Chautauqua County takes a more grassroots approach, using its annual events to disseminate information on cancer prevention awareness.
“We try to get that message across through channels such as the relay for life and making strides against breast cancer events, said Porpiglia. “When we’ve got groups of 600-7000 people, we are talking to them about early detection and healthy eating, staying away from tobacco and the use of sunscreen. We try to emphasize that when we have mass gatherings of people in our midst.”
That, according to Porpiglia, allows ACS to be better stewards of monies entrusted to the organization, focusing instead on funding for research helping cancer patients.”
The ACS also partners with Cancer Services of Chautauqua County to give the public access information on free cancer screening for those who may be uninsured or underinsured, he said.
The specific cancer risk to Chautauqua County residents is similar to other parts of the country, explains Porpiglia. “Just like anywhere else, we are a very sedentary workforce now and people aren’t exercising as much and have greater access to fast food. Lifestyle plays a big part in this.”
“Making sure that we are eating fruits and vegetables, cutting back on animal based products is one of the things that helps, not only with cancer, but with heart disease, diabetes or any type of health issue that you can think of,” says Porpiglia.
However, when assessing cancer risk, he adds that prevention and early detection are proven to lowering risk or surviving cancer. “Assessing your health and having those basic conversations with your doctor, including asking “what am I at risk for, and what should I be tested for is important. If you are not comfortable with what your doctor says, get a second opinion just in case.”
When family history comes into play, Porpiglia says that ACS’s guidelines suggest that individuals be tested 10 years earlier than the age their family member was diagnosed.
Porpiglia says that while the county’s cancer rate has increased five percent since 1999, mortality rates have gone down seven percent as the result of earlier diagnosis and treatment. Types of cancer and rates are also similar to other counties in the state, with prostate cancer having the greatest number of cases, followed by lung, breast and then colorectal cancer.
For information on how to reduce your cancer risk, screening guidelines and other questions about cancer, visit: www.cancer.org.