Cassie Gibbs

We only have a few days until October, which means you may get a little pink in all the regular colors of the fall season.

I may be a week early writing about this topic, but it is never too early to think about your health.

See, you never know when it will happen. When you or a loved one might receive a cancer diagnosis, including a diagnosis for breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and once again, I’m reminding everyone to become aware and check yourself.

The good news is, the death rates connected with breast cancer have been declining for two decades. The theory is advances in treatments, awareness and earlier detection contribute to this decrease.

However, the projected numbers for women (and men) who may be affected by it are still alarming.

According to BreastCancer.org, about 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of a lifetime.

In 2018, over 260,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Over 63,000 women are also expected to receive a diagnosis of a non-invasive form of breast cancer.

Also, in case you were not aware, men can develop breast cancer, so guys, check yourselves out, too.

BreastCancer.org states that over 2,500 cases of invasive breast cancer may be diagnosed in men in 2018.

This numbers may or may not be surprising. It would still be helpful to know how to be tested and how old you must be to be tested by a medical professional.

The Mayo Clinic’s website states that different professional groups differ in when they would recommend women start having a screening mammogram if there is an “average risk” of breast cancer

“The American Cancer Society advises women with an average risk to begin screening mammograms yearly at age 45 until age 54, and then continue every two years for at least the next 10 years,” the Mayo Clinic’s website states. “The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women start screening every two years starting at age 50 until age 74. However, these groups agree that women can choose to be screened starting at age 40.”

For women who have a high risk, such as those women with close relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, screening mammograms can be earlier before 40.

For women who may not be old enough to have a mammogram, learn how to perform a self-exam. Many women have caught their cancer early because they felt a lump and immediately met with a doctor.

“Breast self-exam (BSE), or regularly examining your breasts on your own, can be an important way to find a breast cancer early, when it’s more likely to be treated successfully,” according to the BreastCancer.org website. “Not every cancer can be found this way, but it is a critical step you can and should take for yourself.”

This all relates back to the pink that you will undoubtedly see around town throughout October.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is synonymous with a pink ribbon. Women and even men may wear the color, or at least a pink ribbon to bring awareness or how they have been affected by it.

When you see a pink ribbon, a pink shirt, or anything pink anywhere, chances are it’s a reminder and a chance to become more aware.

It’s a reminder that a woman or a man, maybe someone you know, has fought a battle with breast cancer.

Take a moment to remember that in between preparing for scary nights and candy dishes in October.

Cassie Gibbs is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at cgibbs@southeastsun.com.

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