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Breast cancer statistics should be sobering to all

It’s October, a time when the color pink is prevalent in our communities, making us aware it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In an attempt to raise this awareness, bright pink highlighted the cover of this newspaper on Oct. 1, and the Health Page that publishes every Tuesday, including today, focuses on local stories of breast cancer struggles and triumphs.

The statistics still hold true, as 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, according to medical experts.

The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender — being a woman — and growing older.

Breast cancer remains a killer of women, but, as always, early detection and treatment remain the best defense in fighting the disease.

When detected early, breast cancer has a five-year survival rate exceeding 90 percent. However, African-American women are most likely to be diagnosed at a late stage, resulting in a higher rate of death for black women — with only an 81 percent five-year survival rate, according to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Mammograms are safe and the most effective screening tool used to find breast cancer, finding cancers at the earlier stages, according to Susan G. Komen For the Cure.

Approximately 284,200 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year — accounting for one in every three diagnoses of cancer in women — and 44,130 people will die from the disease, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. The numbers also show there will be 2,650 men who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 530 will die from the disease.

In Ohio, there will be 10,450 cases of breast cancer diagnosed and 1,720 deaths from the disease this year. In Pennsylvania, there will be 12,140 cases diagnosed and 1,970 deaths, while in West Virginia, there will be 1,610 cases diagnosed and 290 deaths.

Breast cancer death rates in this country continue to fall because determined and dedicated doctors, organizers and survivors are getting the word out: Early detection saves lives. In fact, the mortality rate from breast cancer decreased by 40 percent from 1984 through 2017, statistics show.

We encourage women in the community — especially older women and women of color — to do regular — at least monthly — self checks and also to schedule a clinical breast examine and a mammogram.

Make the appointment. The only thing you have to lose is your life.

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