Breast Cancer Awareness Month Op-Ed Marilyn Smith, DNP, MSN, RN / Chief Nursing Officer

Across our community and the entire country this October, we will celebrate the brave women who have done battle with breast cancer. It’s a time of reflection and celebration for many women, as they bond together to celebrate a precious victory and to support causes designed to eradicate the disease. But October can also be a difficult time for some, as we are encouraged to remember friends or loved ones who lost their battle with breast cancer – some of them at a very young age.

But perhaps most importantly, October traditionally provides opportunities to educate millions of women on the importance of screening and prevention.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. The American Cancer Society reports that the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer but also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease. More information regarding breast cancer can be found by visiting the American Cancer Society’s web site at

While recommendations have changed through the years regarding who should get screened and when, the general standards for women at average risk remain the same. The American College of Radiology recommends annual mammograms starting at age 40, with no upper age limit as long as the woman is in good health. Different guidelines apply to women at higher risk. A screening mammogram can help detect breast cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages.

Some women are at higher risk of developing breast cancer based on family history, genetic mutations and some prior health conditions and therapies. If you fall into this category, it’s important to talk with your doctor about more aggressive detection measures and whether they’re right for you.

Our team at Tennova Healthcare – Harton looks forward to celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month with all the survivors, families and advocates here in our community. A special gift will be given to those receiving their screening mammograms during October. A physician’s order is not necessary to schedule and receive a screening mammogram but the results must be forwarded to your physician for follow-up. Information on a special offer from MDSave for a self-pay screening mammogram can be found at