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Think pink, raise awareness

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

And the statistics still hold true, as one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, according to medical experts. But did you know that 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 83 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 268,600 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year — accounting for one in every three diagnoses of cancer in women — and 41,760 of those women will die, according to statistics from Breastcancer.org.

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.

Several events designed to call attention to the disease are being held across our region this month. On Thursday, for example, Weirton Medical Center held a recognition ceremony.

A celebration and remembrance of those whose lives have been touched by breast cancer will happen Wednesday, when the 23rd-annual breast cancer awareness wreath ceremony is held at the Prime Time Senior Center, 300 Lovers Lane in Steubenville. The event is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

We encourage women in the community — especially older women and women of color — to examine their breasts, schedule a clinical breast examine and a mammogram.

Several area organizations offer help to those who are seeking assistance in getting breast or cervical cancer screening, including the Women in Action Against Cancer 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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