Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It’s an equal opportunity killer, and it needs to be stopped. This month in particular has been set aside to make people aware of its dangers.

With one in eight American women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, many are already painfully aware of the horrors of this disease from personal experience.

The most common cancer in the world among women, according to the World Health Organization, breast cancer claims the lives of nearly 42,000 each year, and more than 268,000 are expected to be diagnosed this year.

These are sobering statistics. But the good news is, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, there has been a gradual reduction in female breast cancer rates among women 50 and older. Death rates have been declining since 1990 due to better screening, early detection, increased awareness and improvements in treatment. Efforts like Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October are making a difference.

While breast cancer is the most common, the next most common cancers are lung cancer and prostate cancer.

Other especially common cancer types in this country, according to the National Cancer Institute, include bladder, colon and rectal, endometrial, kidney, liver, pancreatic and thyroid cancers as well as leukemia, melanoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Gov. Larry Hogan is a survivor of the last version of cancer on that list.

More people actually die each year of colon and rectal cancer than breast cancer. And more than three times as many die from lung cancer than colon and rectal cancer. So a multi-front war on all cancers is a good idea. The National Football League has put itself on the front lines during this awareness month, moving from just wearing pink to multiple colors on shoes and gloves as part of its “Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer” campaign.

The idea of wearing pink began in 1991, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. And it has stuck.

While breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women, but, with early detection, it is also the most treatable. Women are urged to check regularly for early signs, talk to their doctors and get mammograms. Men also get breast cancer and should be checked regularly by their doctors during yearly physicals. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better a person’s chances for survival.

Get a jump on defeating cancer by reading the research, speaking with your doctor and performing self-checks regularly. While it is a nice gesture to run a race or purchase pink products, perhaps the first step to keep from being part of the startling statistics is to simply schedule an annual physical.

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