Cancer affects us all. Few of us can say we don’t know someone in our family or close circle of friends who has not been diagnosed with cancer.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, coordinated by numerous cancer organizations, who aim to fight this common form of cancer. Larson Newspapers and the advertisers that appear on Page 8A of today’s edition are proud to be among the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that have joined the battle against this diseases.

Most people are aware of breast cancer’s devastating effects on families and communities, but many women and men forget to take steps to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.

If you haven’t scheduled an appointment with your doctor for a mammogram or clinical breast exam, do so soon. Work with your doctor to determine your risk factors and methods to detect cancer early, whether it’s breast self-exams or regular doctor’s exams.

Some facts about breast cancer from the National Breast Cancer Foundation:

  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. About 2.8 million women are fighting breast cancer or are in remission.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of death among women, after heart disease. An estimated 40,450 will die from breast cancer this year.
  • In 2016, an estimated 246,660 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 61,000 will be diagnosed with in situ breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is diagnosed more often in Caucasian women overall, but among those under age 45, African-American women are more likely to be diagnosed.
  • People with a history of breast or ovarian cancer in their families have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Mutations in certain genes, specifically BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase risk. Individuals with these gene mutations can pass the gene mutation onto their children, but 85 percent of new cases are diagnosed in women with no such family history.
  • Women who began menstruation before age 12, entered menopause after 55, had their first child at an older age or never gave birth also have an increased risk.
  • Although breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men, 2,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Male breast cancer can be caused by radiation exposure, high levels of the hormone estrogen or a family history of breast cancer, especially if those cancers are related to the BRCA2 gene.

More information is available from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, the National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Once National Breast Cancer Awareness Month ends, don’t let the fight against cancer fade until next October. Cancer can strike at any time of the year, so it’s up to us to remain vigilant and stop it early.