Fight breast cancer with campaigns and one on one

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 1, 2016

October is a time of bringing in the fall harvest, hitting the hunting grounds, carving pumpkins or trick-or-treating. For many women, it’s also a reminder to pay attention to their health.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we’ll see pink splashed everywhere, from ribbons and lapel pins to airliners and football uniforms. It’s a campaign that’s gone global over the past two decades, stressing mammography as the best, most cost-effective way of screening women for breast cancer.

The guidelines have been confusing in recent years, with some organizations calling for women to start routine screening at 40 and others at 50, and some calling for annual exams and others every other year.

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But whatever age a patient starts or how often she goes, the first step is to make that appointment.

In the United States, 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The disease is the second-leading cause of death among women of color nationwide and the third-leading cause among white women, according to the state Department of Health. And this disease doesn’t spare men: While 1 in 1,000 men will develop breast cancer in his lifetime, the American Cancer Society says, about 2,600 will develop it this year, and 440 will die of it.

There are more than 100 types of cancer, and all of them are insidious. The body turns on itself at the cellular level. Advances in fighting any form of this terrible disease may prove to be a weapon in fighting some or all of them. That’s why research foundations that benefit from the campaigns of October are so important.

In this pink-drenched month, we should contribute to the charities that appeal to us, locally or nationally. We all should support the cause of the early detection, treatment and prevention of breast cancer.

We should also to remember to schedule our own mammograms, or nudge some woman we love to do so for herself.