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Pink ribbon: Be alert to breast cancer
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Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among Shanghai women and a major killer of women nationwide. So, go ahead, wear that cute pink ribbon. But get a breast cancer checkup, writes Yang Di.

October is World Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are pretty pink ribbons to wear, there are landmarks illuminated in pink, there are fundraisers, pamphlets and awareness campaigns.

Be informed. Survival rates increase with early detection.

Regular checkups and mammograms are essential. Self-exams can help.

The problem is serious in China where environmental pollution, obesity and poor eating habits contribute to cancer of all kinds.

Many women are uninformed and do not realize that most breast and other cancers, if detected early, are treatable.

Breast removal is not a given.

China statistics are scattered. Last October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, experts in Shanghai said breast cancer was the leading cause of death among Shanghai women and that the rate has tripled over the past 35 years.

In big industrialized polluted cities, breast cancer is the biggest killer of women. Nationwide, the Ministry of Health reports, breast cancer increased 96 percent in 30 years.

Among the figures: In 2001, the national incidence was 17 out of 100,000; in 2006 it was 52 out of 100,000.

One projection puts the incidence at over 100 out of 10,000 by the year 2021.

Worldwide, breast cancer is the second most prevalent cancer and the most common cause of cancer death among women.

The message behind the pink ribbon: "World Pink. World Without Breast Cancer. Wear a Pink Ribbon. Make a Difference."

The Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign was initiated in 1992 by Evelyn H. Lauder, senior corporate vice president of cosmetics giant The Estee Lauder Companies.

By month's end, more than 80 million pink ribbons will have been distributed worldwide, as well as millions of education pamphlets through Estee Lauder counters.

More than 200 global landmarks are illuminated in pink.

Around US$35 million will have been raised for breast cancer research.

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