There is no need to adjust your television set when you start seeing an abundance of pink on the screen over the next three weeks. Everyone from cancer survivors to football players sport the color in October to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research.

With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American women. About 1 in 8 U.S. women born today will get breast cancer at some point and 245,000 will be diagnosed this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 40,000 Americans die from breast cancer each year.

In Kentucky, 3,482 new cases were reported in 2016 — roughly 126.1 per 100,000 women received a breast cancer diagnosis.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a yearly reminder for women to get screened. Most breast cancers are found in women age 50 and older, however, about 10% of all new U.S. cases involve women younger than 45.

Health experts encourage all women ages 21-64 to perform monthly breast self-examinations. Routine yearly mammograms should start around the age 40 and also improve the chances of detecting breast cancer earlier, making it easier to treat.

Some factors increase the risk for breast cancer, including getting older; genetic mutations; reproductive history; having dense breasts; personal and family history; previous radiation therapy; having taken the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES); not being physically active; being overweight after menopause; taking hormones; and drinking alcohol.

Funded by state and federal funds, the Kentucky Women’s Cancer Screening Program through the Department for Public Health provides reduced-cost and free breast cancer screenings, follow-up services, education and outreach for low-income, uninsured and underinsured women.

Frankfort Regional Medical Center offers mammography and tomosynthesis or 3-D mammography to screen for breast cancer. The Franklin County Health Department also offers breast examinations.

During this busy fall season, we encourage local women to perform self-examinations of their breasts and schedule a mammogram. After all, pink in October is more than just a pretty color.

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