The signature pink ribbons are hard to ignore across North Carolina, with October being designated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year, more than 5,000 North Carolinians, mostly women, will be diagnosed with the disease, and hundreds will die. It's one of the most treatable cancers, with a five-year survival rate of 90 percent if it's found before it spreads.
The American Cancer Society's Lou Harvin says there's just one thing worse than hearing the words "you have cancer."
"And that is to hear someone say, 'Why didn't you come in earlier?' Because your cancer can grow to a much greater stage when it didn't have to in the first place."
The ACS recommends women get an annual mammogram beginning at age 40. Staying at a healthy body weight and exercising also reduce the risk. Genetic testing is becoming another popular way for women to learn about their breast cancer risk. The test can predict a woman's likelihood to develop the disease, and encourage more vigilance.
Harvin says he understands why it's difficult for many women to find the time to be proactive about their health.
"They do put themselves at the bottom of the list, and we want women to put themselves first, because in many homes, if the woman is not around, the entire household falls apart."
Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths among women. One woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes across the United States, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.Read the full article