Pink is a prevalent color around our communities this time of year — it serves as a reminder that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, according to medical experts, and the most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender — being a woman — and growing older. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, behind only lung cancer.

Breast cancer remains a killer of women, but, as always, early detection and treatment remain the best defense in fighting the disease. The proof is in the numbers — breast cancer death rates have decreased steadily since 1989 with an overall decline of 43 percent through 2020, the ACS reports.

When detected early, breast cancer has a five-year survival rate of 91 percent for all stages combined. For localized cancers, that number is 99 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 82 percent five-year survival rate, according to Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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

Approximately 297,790 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year — accounting for one in every three diagnoses of cancer in women — and 43,170 women will die from the disease, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. The numbers also show there will be 2,800 men who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 530 will die from the disease.

In Ohio, the cancer society estimates, there will be 11,200 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women and 1,670 deaths from the disease this year. In Pennsylvania, estimates say there will be 12,830 cases diagnosed and 1,870 deaths, while in West Virginia, there will be an estimated 1,620 cases diagnosed and 230 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.

Many events have been held throughout the Tri-State Area each year during October to call attention to the disease and the steps that can be taken to fight the disease. Those include recognition during numerous local high school athletic events, including last weekend’s 11th-annual Together We Care Cancer Soccer Benefit in Harding Stadium; the Faith Over Fear pop-in event held Friday by Trinity Health System; the Breast Cancer Awareness and Community Expo sponsored by the Women in Action Against Cancer Coalition that will be held Wednesday at the Fort Steuben Mall; and Thursday’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month event at the Mingo Junction Senior Center that will benefit UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Center.

We encourage all women in the community to examine their breasts, schedule a clinical breast examination and a mammogram.

Several area organizations offer help to those who are seeking assistance in getting breast or cervical cancer screening, including the coalition, which can be reached by calling (740) 632-1144.

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

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