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

According to medical experts, one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender — being a woman — and growing older.

Early detection and treatment remain the best defense in how we can fight the disease.

When detected early, breast cancer has a five-year survival rate exceeding 90%. However, Black women are most likely to be diagnosed at a late stage, resulting in a higher rate of death — with only an 81% 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 297,790 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year — accounting for one in every three diagnoses of cancer in women — and more than 40,000 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 more than 500 will die.

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% from 1984 through 2017, statistics show.

We encourage women in the community to do regular — at least monthly — self checks and also to schedule a clinical breast exam and a mammogram. Make the appointment. The only thing you have to lose is your life.

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