Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States aside from skin cancer. It doesn’t discriminate between rich or poor, married or single, men or women. It can be deadly.

Each year, it is estimated that 178,480 women and 2,030 men are diagnosed with the disease. Of these, an estimated 40,460 women and 450 men die from the disease (figures from nbcam.org).

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Organizations, clubs and even businesses do what they can to promote awareness and raise money to help with research.

There are only a few options to treat breast cancer. Treatment and recovery have made significant improvements in the past few years. Among those options are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and biologically targeted therapy.

A local breast cancer survivor was recently diagnosed with her second round of the disease. She said compared to the first go-round, the second was easier. During the first time, she would get violently ill with chemotherapy treatments. During the second round, a new medicine had been developed that helped keep her from being ill while undergoing the chemotherapy treatments. She continues to fight the disease and thanks go to Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society for the advancements in treatments.

Despite the advancements, early detection, awareness of risk factors and routine check-ups are the keys to treating breast cancer.

Early detection can be maintained by self-exams, regular doctor visits, and mammograms.

Risk factors include gender, age, personal history, family history, “Breast Cancer Genes,” pregnancies between 25 and 35 years of age, having no children, hormone replacement therapy and use of oral contraceptives. Lifestyle factors include high amounts of daily fat intake, low fiber intake, inactivity and smoking.

This October, be aware of what can cause and help prevent cancer and lead to a healthier lifestyle. Donate, participate in events, volunteer time or help make a change. Who knows, if not you, an important woman (or man) in your life may encounter the disease. Help them fight it.

For more information on breast cancer, go to the American Cancer Society Web site at www.cancer.org.