During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the American Cancer Society is urging women to follow early detection guidelines for breast cancer and to make healthy behavioral changes to lower their risk of breast cancer.

An estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 39,520 deaths from breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the U.S. in 2011.

"As the official sponsor of birthdays, the American Cancer Society wants women to experience the benefits of choosing to put their health first," said Judy Hoppes, Sr. Health Initiatives Representatvie at the American Cancer Society. "Women can take action and put their personal breast health first to stay well, fight breast cancer and save lives. Thanks in part to early detection and improved treatment, more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors will celebrate a birthday this year."

Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in women, second only to lung cancer. The society is reminding women 40 and older to have a yearly mammogram and clinical breast exam.

Also, the society recommends that women ages 20 to 39 receive a clinical breast exam once every three years. The five-year survival rate is 98 percent for breast cancer that is diagnosed in the earliest stages.

The society offers newly diagnosed women and those living with breast cancer a variety of programs and services to help them in their breast cancer experience.

Ÿ Reach to Recovery helps newly diagnosed patients cope with their breast cancer experience. Reach to Recovery volunteers offer the unique understanding, support, and hope from the perspective of someone who has survived breast cancer.

Ÿ The Look Good…Feel Better program helps breast cancer patients manage the physical side effects of treatment. Patients gain beauty techniques to help improve their self-esteem and quality of life, but also a sense of support, confidence, courage and community with other cancer patients in the program.

Ÿ The Hope Lodge program offers patients free lodging for those receiving treatment far from home.

Ÿ The Society offers free information to help make treatment decisions and access to its programs 24/7 through 1-800-227-2345 or cancer.org.

Women can reduce their risk of breast cancer by taking additional steps to stay well by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, and engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on five or more days of the week. Also, limiting alcohol consumption can reduce breast cancer risk – one or more alcoholic beverages a day may increase risk.

The American Cancer Society and its affiliate advocacy organization, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN), continue to fight back against breast cancer by engaging in activities to increase funding for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) that provides low-income, uninsured and underinsured women access to mammograms, Pap tests, follow-up care and treatment.

Current funding only enables the program to serve fewer than one in five eligible women ages 50 to 64 nationwide. ACS CAN encourages anyone touched by this disease to let Congress know that support for the NBCCEDP is important and that an increase in funding for this program is vital to its continuation.

To get involved, or to learn more about this effort, please visit acscan.org/breastcancer.

The American Cancer Society combines passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer.

As the nation's largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.5 billion, the American Cancer Society turns what theyknow about cancer into results.

As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year.

To learn more about or to get help, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.