This year, more than 4,100 women in Minnesota will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

That’s more than 11 women every day.

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An estimated 600 women in the state will die of breast cancer.

That’s nearly two women every day.

All the ribbons, the pink colors, the fundraisers, try to get the message across that there is hope and strength in numbers. There’s no better time than now to show your support and learn more about this disease that cuts too many lives too short.

The American Cancer Society offers these insights:

-Every year in Minnesota, more women are diagnosed with breast cancer than lung cancer and colon cancer combined. When looking at the leading causes of cancer deaths among Minnesota women, breast cancer is second only to lung cancer.

-Many women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a known risk factor. It is important for women in their 20s and 30s to have a clinical breast exam as part of a regular check-up and, starting at age 40, an annual mammogram.

-The American Cancer Society recommends that women be aware of the limitations of mammography. A mammogram cannot prove that an abnormal area is cancer.

-Women should also be aware that mammograms are done to find cancers that can’t be felt. If you have a breast lump, you should have it checked by your doctor, who may recommend a biopsy even if your mammogram result is normal.

-Mammograms are not perfect at finding breast cancer, but it is the best early detection tool we have at this time. Women should empower themselves with information and talk to their doctors about what is right for them.

-Body weight, physical activity, and diet have all been linked to breast cancer. Increased physical activity in young girls has been proven to show a decreased risk of breast cancer. Many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk.

-Both increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause. Alcohol also increases risk of breast cancer. Even low levels of alcohol intake have been linked with an increase in risk.

According to the American Cancer Society, the best advice about diet and activity to possibly reduce the risk of breast cancer is to:

-Get regular, intentional physical activity.

-Reduce your lifetime weight gain by limiting your calories and getting regular physical activity.

-Avoid or limit your alcohol intake.

The fight to end breast cancer can seem discouraging and overwhelming. Billions of dollars are poured into research yet cancer deaths continue and a cure is still but a dream.

Progress, however, has been made.

Cancer death rates began to decline in the early 1990s and more than 1 million cancer deaths were avoided from 1990 to 2008, according to the American Cancer Society.

It will take determination, strength and unity but there is hope in this battle. Just like the cancer survivors, we must continue the fight.

This editorial originally appeared in the Alexandria Echo Press, a publication of Forum Communications Co.