Mammograms save lives every day. The mortality rate of breast cancer drops by half among those who undergo annual mammograms, and nearly 500,000 lives have been saved since screening mammography began in the mid-to-late 70s.
Fellowship-trained breast radiologist Amanda Squires, MD, is Parkwest Comprehensive Breast Center’s medical director. Below, she debunks some myths and provides important reminders about reducing one’s risk of breast cancer.
What is your main message to women about preventing breast cancer?
My main message about dealing with breast cancer is to get your regular annual mammogram in addition to doing a monthly self- breast exam, and ideally, getting an annual breast exam from your doctor.
Unfortunately, we cannot prevent breast cancer at this time, although there are general lifestyle modifications that could decrease one’s risk. But what we can do is catch it early. The importance of a mammogram cannot be overstated. It’s a quick and easy test that is very likely to save your life.
What is a common myth about women’s health screenings?
The most common misconception about screening mammography is concern regarding
radiation exposure. In radiology, we never allow radiation exposure that does not directly benefit the patient, so that any risk is outweighed by the benefit. The benefit exceeds the risk in breast imaging. The dose from mammography is extremely low. The radiation dose of a four-view mammogram is the same as that received on a single flight from New York to L.A. Mammography is safe; breast cancer is not.
What lifestyle factors may increase or decrease our risk of developing breast cancer?
Certain lifestyle changes may reduce breast cancer risk. However, it will never be zero. The most important thing women can do is annual screening mammography. There is no woman — or man— who has zero risk of breast cancer. This is regardless of family history [of the disease], or lack thereof. Every woman has a reasonable risk and needs to be screened in order to have the best chance of survival.
Also, for those with family histories of cancer, I think genetic consultation should not be overlooked. Those family histories can be tragic for those who lived it. I encourage women
to learn about their family histories and act accordingly.
What is the most important thing to know about mammography?
Mammography has proven itself countless times to save lives. It’s as simple as that.
When should I get a mammogram?
All women can conduct a self-breast exam each month. Beginning at age 20, women should undergo a clinical breast exam at the time of their annual doctor visit. The American College of
Radiology and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend annual
screening mammograms for women every year beginning at age 40.
What would you say to someone who has delayed their annual mammogram because of fear
of contracting COVID-19, and what protocols are in place at Parkwest Breast Center to
ensure patient safety?
There have been a lot of general health maintenance screenings skipped as a consequence of COVID-19, which has created fear of coming to the doctor. This could lead to patient outcomes that are not ideal. Don’t be one of them!
At Parkwest Breast Center, we are doing absolutely everything in our power to minimize
contact at each possible point. It is as safe as we can possibly make it for the sake of our patients
and our staff.
Your First Choice for Breast Health
Parkwest Breast Center meets rigorous standards for staff training, technology and patient care,
and is accredited as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.
Radiologist Amanda Squires, MD, is the Center’s medical director and is fellowship-trained
in women’s imaging. Having a radiologist on staff means mammography results can be given
to women within 24 to 48 hours of the test.
In addition to Dr. Squires, the Breast Center staff includes eight technologists, all of whom
are credentialed through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Some specialize
in breast ultrasound, while others are experts in tomosynthesis or 3D mammography, the latest
advance in breast imaging.
To achieve recognition as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, a facility must be ACR-accredited in four areas:
- Digital mammography (the center offers both 2D and 3D mammography)
- Breast ultrasound (using sound waves to detect inconsistencies)
- Stereotactic breast biopsy (using mammogram images to guide a biopsy needle)
- Breast MRI (using magnetic radio waves to locate an abnormality, both for diagnosis and biopsies)
No physician referral is needed for a routine screening mammogram. The Breast Center is
conveniently located at 9330 Park West Blvd., Suite 103, in the Physicians Plaza. Call
(865) 373-7010 to schedule an appointment, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.