EDITORIAL | Take the time in October to learn about breast cancer

Readers will likely notice a rather unusual color highlight on page 1 and throughout today’s editions of both the South Whidbey Record and the Whidbey News Times. The answer is “no,” we’re not making a fashion statement, but “yes,” pink is our new favorite color, at least for the next couple of weeks.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, as in years past, Whidbey News Group wants everyone to know about it. Breast cancer is a nefarious and indiscriminate killer, but it doesn’t need to be a silent one. Know that more than 41,000 people — that includes men — will die this year and that many of those deaths can be avoided. Early detection is everything. Take this month to learn what breast cancer is, how to spot it early and where to go for treatment.

Breast cancer is not something to be taken lightly, but according to the American Cancer Society there is good news. While it remains the most common cancer for women, behind skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, mortality rates have declined 36 percent from 1989 to 2012. Also, invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in about 247,000 women and 2,600 men in 2016. This is due to improvements in treatment but also early detection.

Women and men should perform regular, as in monthly, self examinations. They should include a visual inspection and a physical one. Look for differences in size, shape and color, fluid discharges, and of course feel for lumps; anything that feels harder or different should be checked out by a doctor.

The increase in and emphasis on early detection is no doubt due in part to community education efforts. The first that comes to mind is Relay for Life in Oak Harbor, where people walk around a school track to draw attention to and raise money for cancer research. This year more than 40 teams participated, and raised more than $100,000.

Relay for Life isn’t solely focused on breast cancer, but it’s efforts like these that have gotten the word out. People now know that paying attention could very well save their lives.

We hope that our meager contribution will also remind people of the dangers of breast cancer, and that complacency can kill. Again, take this month to learn more about this deadly disease, so that if or when it knocks on your door you’ll be ready.