By Stephanie Stahl


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Oct. 1 is the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of detecting breast cancer early. There is some encouraging news about breast cancer, but still, doctors say we can do better.

That’s why CBS3 is partnering with Komen Philadelphia to light the city pink for the month of October. The campaign called Lights for the Fight aims to raise awareness about the importance of early detection.

The American Cancer Society says breast cancer death rates are down 40% mainly due to improvements in early detection and treatment.

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This year, about 268,000 American women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer — 41,000 will die.

Breast cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death for women, second only to lung cancer.

The Pennsylvania Health Department says white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African American women, but black and Hispanic women are more likely to die of breast cancer, mainly because of late diagnosis. Age is the biggest risk factor, not family history.

Mammograms, while not perfect, remain the gold standard. Women should have them yearly starting at age 45.

“Before menopause, cancer tends to be more aggressive. They advance more rapidly. That’s why it’s important to screen more frequently every year,” Dr. Richard Wender, with the American Cancer Society, said.

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In addition to screenings, doctors say a healthy diet can help prevent breast cancer

Studies show produce is most beneficial. Also, not smoking and limiting alcohol can help reduce the risk.

According to Komen scientific advisers, approximately 30% of deaths from breast cancer could be avoided without a single new discovery by ensuring all people have access to and receive the standard of breast health care that’s currently available.

Stephanie Stahl