The American Cancer Society's Great American Health Check is an easy-to-use online tool that focuses on the importance of prevention and early detection.

The American Cancer Society's Great American Health Check ( is an easy-to-use online tool that focuses on the importance of prevention and early detection. It helps consumers
understand what cancer tests are right for them and how to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors throughout the year that may reduce their risk of the disease.

The Health Check allows individuals to enter age, gender, height, weight, dietary habits, physical activity levels, and alcohol and tobacco use for themselves or a loved one. Users can access a free personalized
guide to find which cancer screening tests are appropriate, as well as healthy behavior recommendations based on their responses.

Also, the Health Check provides recommendations for diet, physical activity and tobacco cessation to help lower a person's risk for certain cancers. A health action plan is created, which may be shared with a
person's doctor.

Much of the suffering and death from cancer could be prevented if more people reduced tobacco use, improved diet and physical activity, and expanded the use of established screening tests.

At least 60 percent of the estimated 565,650 cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2008 were attributed to poor diet, physical inactivity, and exposure to tobacco products. Lack of regular cancer screening tests contributes
to additional cancer deaths.

"We know that prevention and early detection works in reducing deaths from cancer," said Robert Paschen, spokesman for the American Cancer Society. "The good news is that individuals can use this knowledge
to help reduce their cancer risk. The Great American Health Check gives people the opportunity to take charge of their health, and begin lifestyle changes that can make them feel better and potentially reduce their
risk of cancer and other diseases."

Although inherited genes do influence cancer risk, behavioral factors such as cigarette smoking, dietary, physical activity and weight control substantially affect the risk of developing cancer. There is strong
scientific evidence that healthy dietary patterns such as eating five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day, in combination with regular physical activity, are needed to maintain a healthy body weight
and reduce cancer risk.

For their part, screenings can detect cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, cervix, prostate, oral cavity and skin at early stages when treatment is more likely to be successful. For example, with proper screening the
five-year survival rate for colon cancer is as high as 90 percent; breast cancer, 98 percent. The five-year survival rate for cancers that can be prevented or detected earlier by screening is about 86 percent, a
percentage which reflects real reductions in cancer deaths.

The Great American Health Check is part of the American Cancer Society Great American Health Challenge, a year-round initiative that encourages Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles to reduce their risk of

More information on the Great American Health Challenge is available at or by calling the American Cancer Society toll free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-227-2345.