Who do you know who has breast cancer? Chances are you know someone, and even if you don't, at some point in your life you probably will.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in this country and the leading cause of cancer deaths among women ages 40-49. It is second only to lung cancer as the primary cause of cancer deaths among all women.
According to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, about 211,240 women will be diagnosed with the cancer this year in the United States.
More than 40,000 will die.
But among all these daunting statistics, there is hope.
There are more than 2 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States today and the number of deaths seems to be declining.
Experts attribute this decline to earlier detection and more effective treatment.
Although it's painful to think about and can be uncomfortable to talk about, we can't ignore it. Breast cancer is a prevalent disease and the more we discuss prevention and treatment, the better equipped we will be to beat it.
It is important we understand the risk factors. Some we can't control, like genetic makeup and starting your first period before the age of 12.
Others we can control, such as being overweight. And we can help with early detection.
Every woman should conduct a monthly self-breast exam and seek regular exams from their doctors. Starting at 40, a yearly mammogram should be added.
And men are not immune. About 1,690 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men this year.
While we may not be able to prevent ourselves or our loved ones from getting breast cancer, we can do our part to make sure it is detected early so treatment can be more effective.