Carter County has highest cancer rate in Missouri - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Carter County has highest cancer rate in Missouri


Cancer has affected all of us in some way, but if you ask almost anyone in Carter County, they'll likely have a personal story - whether they've been diagnosed or lost a loved one to the disease.

Officials at the health department say cancer is hitting Carter County hard with death rates well above the state average. 

These are heartbreaking statistics that one mother says she never thought her family would be a part of.

“She always had a smile,” Angel Sisk said.

That's the way Sisk remembers her daughter. A happy, fun-loving girl, cancer took Brianna when she was 13.

“She wanted to be a nurse when she grew up and you know it kills me that she wasn't able to see everything she wanted to see,” Sisk said.

The disease hasn't only taken her child. Her father lost his battle to lung cancer and her niece is still fighting. Jessica was diagnosed when the same year as Brianna.

“Cancer has taken so much from both girls and us,” Sisk said.

Unfortunately, Sisk and her family's story is far from the only one of this kind, especially in Carter County.

“We are number one,” Health Department Administrator Debbie Sandarciero said.

Sandarciero says according to data from, Carter County has the worse cancer rates in the state, both in number of cases and number of deaths.

“There's Missouri, 185 and Carter is 288,” Sandarciero said.

Sandarciero says while it's unclear why the rates are so high, lifestyle and access to healthcare are likely contributing factors.

“Problems getting to the physician, problems getting routine screenings like pap smears and mammogram's,” Sandarciero said.

She says one of the leading cancers in the county is lung, that's why the health department is leading an effort to curb that trend.

“We are contacting all the businesses here in the county to see if they have a smoke-free policy, if they don't have one, are they interested in one,” Sandarciero said.

She also agrees with mother of two Michelle Walker that there's another trend as well.

“It just seems like there have been so many kids in our small town that have had cancer,” Sandarciero said.

Her little boy was born with cancer, but is now okay, but she agrees with Sisk, more research needs to be done.

“There's too many kids and adults getting cancer and we need to find out why,” Sandarciero said.

Sandarciero urges everyone to get regular screenings and perform self-exams, she also suggests knowing the cancer warning signs and not ignoring them. 

She also reminds us that some of these services are available through the public health department.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly