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Missoula City-County Health Department: Health Promotion
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Missoula City-County Health Department: Health Promotion

Missoula City-County Health Department: Health Promotion

Cancer Control - Awareness Information


Reducing cancer risk factors may help prevent certain types of cancer.  Risk factors include smoking, being overweight and lack of exercise.  Protective factors include not smoking, avoiding second hand smoke, eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and being physically active every day.

Screening is an important tool to look for cancer before a person has any symptoms.  Screening can often find caner at an early stage, making treatment easier and cure more probable.  By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have begun to spread.  Screening is most common for cancers of the breast, colon, and cervix.

Risk factors are anything that would increase your chances of getting a disease.  Some risk factors are under your control; some are not.  However, just because you have a risk factor or two does not necessarily mean that you will get the disease.  It just means you are at a greater risk. 

Risk reduction are things you can do to reduce your risk.  Routine screenings and Early detection are important parts of risk reduction.

Warning signs are some of the signs and symptoms of the disease in it's early stages.


Risk factors:
Risk reduction:
Early detection:
Warning signs:

A man with prostate cancer may not have any warning signs or symptoms.  Common symptoms include:

Information taken from American Cancer Society Prevention and Early Detection Worksheet for Men

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There are 2 types of skin cancer: nonmelanoma, and melanoma.  Nonmelanoma is more common, and the risk factors are NOT the same:

Risk factors for nonmelanoma:
Risk factors for melanoma:
Risk reduction:  Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap!
Early detection:

Regular examination of your skin by both you and your doctor increases the chance of finding skin cancer early.  Friends and family members can also help by telling one another about abnormal-looking areas of the skin.

Warning signs:

Melanomas can be evaluated using the ABCD method.

Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection - American Cancer Society

National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention - Protect your skin from the sun.

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Colorectal cancer starts in the tissues of the colon or the rectum.  It affects both men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people aged 50 years or older.

In Montana, approximately 470 people are newly diagnosed and 170 die from it each year. Cancer in Montana 2003-2007, MT Central Tumor Registry Annual Report, 2009

Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps which can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure.

(Polyps are abnormal growths that protrude from the inner wall of the colon or rectum. They are relatively common in people over age 50. Most polyps are benign (noncancerous), but experts believe that the majority of colorectal cancers develop in polyps known as adenomas. Detecting and removing these growths may help prevent colorectal cancer.)

Risk factors:

Risk reduction:
Warning signs:
Colorectal cancer is almost entirely preventable with screening:
Screening tests

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends colorectal cancer screening for all men and women aged 50-75 and earlier than age 50 if at increased risk due to a personal or family history or risk factors.  Evidence shows that cancer deaths can be prevented by following screening recommendations for colorectal cancer.

Screening test recommendations from the USPSTF include:

An informed decision-making discussion between individuals and their health care provider determines which test is best for them. The best test is the one completed.

Many insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening tests. Check with your plan to find out which tests are covered for you.

If you are unable to pay for a colorectal cancer screening test, assistance may be available to you through the Montana Cancer Screening Program. A limited numbers of screenings are available for underinsured and un-insured Montanans who qualify. Call 1-888-803-9343.

Colon Cancer - American Cancer Society

Colorectal Cancer - National Cancer Institute

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Risk factors out of your control:
Lifestyle related factors:
Gender Not having children
Race and ethnicity Having children later in life
Genetic risk factors Being overweight or obese
Personal history Lack of physical activity
Family history Not breastfeeding
Dense breast tissue Oral contraceptive use
Menstruation history Post-menopausal hormone therapy
  Alcohol use
Early detection:
Warning signs:

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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in Montana.

Risk factors:
Risk reduction:
Early detection:

A spiral CT scan can detect early lung cancer in people who are smokers and former smokers.

Warning signs:

In early stages, there may be no symptoms. In later stages, these signs may appear:

National Cancer Institute - Lung Cancer

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Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. 

Testing is the only way to know if radon is present.

 EPA Radon information

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Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the mesothelium, the tissue that covers the lungs and abdominal organs. These tumors tend to spread rapidly and may not be responsive to current cancer treatments. Many patients die within two years of being diagnosed. Therefore prevention is the best way to combat this cancer.

Risk factors:

The relationship between asbestos exposure and Mesothelioma is well documented.
Over 70% of cases report asbestos exposure.

Risk reduction:

Limit exposure to asbestos.

Warning signs:

Source: Mesothelioma in Montana, Sept 2005; National Cancer Institute

National Cancer Institute - Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma in MT

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Cervical cancer affects over 1000 women in Montana and approximately 10,000 women in the United States each year. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide, but because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.

Risk factors:

Risk reduction:

Early detection:

Getting a Pap test regularly can find precancerous changes that can be treated, so that cervical cancer is prevented; and a Pap test can find cervical cancer early, when treatment is most effective. 

The Montana Cancer Control Program offers Pap tests, diagnostic services for abnormal tests and referral to cancer treatments if necessary, for qualified women 50 and over, and for those age 30-49 who lave limited funds for women . Services are for uninsured and underinsured women who meet income guidelines. Contact 1-888-803-9343.

If you already know the basics, take a minute to learn something new:

Warning signs:

Early cervical pre-cancers or cancers often have no signs or symptoms. Symptoms that may develop when the cancer is further along include:

Sources: American Cancer Society and Montana Cancer Control Programs

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