Nearly 8,000 women in New Jersey will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. More than 1,200 will die from the disease this year, says Dr. Arnold Baskies, breast surgeon, surgical oncologist and chairman of the Board at the American Cancer Society of New Jersey.

But he says the overall survival rate in the Garden State is over 90 percent because of the tremendous advances in diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

"Between 1989 and 2015, over that period of time of 26 years, there has been a close to 40 percent improvement in survival," says Dr. Baskies. That's 322,000 lives saved.

He says while these numbers are very encouraging, there is still so much more work to do in beating breast cancer all together.

The American Cancer Society is strongly encouraging women to get mammograms and New Jersey residents to "give back" by walking and fundraising.

When it comes to getting mammograms, Baskies says women are pretty good about it, but not as good as the American Cancer Society would like.

Nationally, only 65 percent of women get mammograms. But in New Jersey, Baskies says there is a program called the Cancer Education and Early Detection Program. It funds mammograms for women who are uninsured. So for those women who want to have a mammogram but can't afford it, they now have a way to get it done. Early detection is always key.

What many people do not realize, says Baskies, is that men can get breast cancer, too. It is rare, with only 1 percent or 2,500 men being diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. this year. So he says if a man does feel a lump on his breast, he should report it to a physician immediately.

Baskies says data shows women who wear high heels or work at night are at higher risk of getting breast cancer. There is data that shows women who spend six hours or more sitting per day have a greater risk of getting cancer.

What has been proven, he says, is that "obesity, a lack of exercise increases the risk of breast cancer. Alcohol intake increases the risk of breast cancers."

Baskies says The American Cancer Society is the largest funder of breast cancer research in the world, other than the federal government, investing $4.8 billion in research.

On Oct. 15, residents of New Jersey and New York will have the opportunity to support the fight to end breast cancer forever by taking part in one of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks.

Baskies encourages volunteers to register online at www.makingstrideswalk.org and fundraise before the event.

The American Cancer Society is also launching a program called "Real Men Wear Pink." The program engages men in the fight against breast cancer. Men can serve as caregivers for women with the disease and Baskies says participants can commit to raising $2,500 and wearing pink every day during the month of October. He suggests wearing pink ties, shirts, shoelaces. There is even one man at the cancer nonprofit that wears a pink suit everyday. To find out more, go to www.cancer.org.

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