The community is invited to a free health forum - to be held 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Arthur Christopher Community Center, 265 Fishburne St., - is focusing on raising cancer awareness among Charleston's African American community.

The forum is presented by the American Cancer Society and Tri-County Black Nurses Association and will include speakers, a fitness activity, healthy cooking demonstration, health fair screenings and fun activities for youth. Lunch will be provided.

The overarching goal is to encourage people to talk about cancer and to seek appropriate cancer screenings. Higher death rates from colorectal cancer account for about 24 percent of the current disparity in overall cancer death rates between African American and white women and 14 percent of the disparity between African American and white men.

While African American women have a lower incidence rate of breast cancer than white women, they are more likely be diagnosed at a later stage and to die from the disease.

"It is absolutely vital that we take steps to close the disparity gap when it comes to cancer," said Reverend Tawana Thomas-Johnson, director of health disparities for the American Cancer Society.

"Too many people are dying of diseases that could be treated if found earlier. African Americans need to learn about cancer risk factors, early detection and treatment. Talking to your doctor and scheduling screenings to detect cancer early can save lives."

For more information, call 888-202-7604.