Leading SA: Breast radiation oncologist discusses what families should know about breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

SAN ANTONIO – One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

Dr. Shraddha Dalwadi, a breast radiation oncologist with UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, joined Leading SA Sunday to explain what our local families should know about Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Dalwadi began by listing some risk factors many women face.

“Some risk factors are not preventable, such as age. Older women are more at risk in being a woman. Other risk factors are preventable, such as obesity, never having pregnant or having a first child at an older age. The use of hormone replacement pills. Other risk factors are radiation exposure or a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer,” Dalwadi said.

Although the risks can be intimidating, Dalwadi also shared some preventative measures like getting checks.

“Women of average risk should begin getting their mammogram at age 40. They should get it every 1 to 2 years. But if you have a history of radiation or many people in your family have been diagnosed with breast cancer, I would encourage you to speak to your physician to see if you qualify for earlier screening,” Dalwadi said.

For those preventative measures to be instilled, patients must return to the clinics.

In San Antonio, the pandemic delayed a lot of families from making sure they were up-to-date on their check-ups.

“Honestly, in San Antonio, we’re really catching up. Since the COVID era, when the pandemic was at its height, making sure that women are getting back into clinics and getting their mammograms on time,” Dalwadi said.

Dalwaldi went on to explain the different kinds of checks that you and your loved ones need.

“A 2D mammogram has been the standard of care for decades and honestly is able to detect most cancers. A 3D mammogram is now the standard at most modern facilities because they’re able to acquire images in different angles and provide more information on how concerning a lesion it is. So think about requesting a 3D mammogram. If you have dense breast tissue or a strong family history and are just overall at a higher risk of getting that diagnosis. If you’re getting your mammogram at a specialized center, especially one with an experienced breast radiologist, you’re going to be in good hands,” Dalwadi said.

Obviously, some risks are unavoidable, but there are ways to better prevent breast cancer.

“Eating a nutritious, healthy diet, exercising, limiting alcohol, visiting your doctor for regular exams, and of course doing your mammograms for screening on time will lower your risks of being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer,” Dalwadi said.

Lastly, Dalwadi said if you have any questions about screenings, ask your doctor.

“Most women with breast cancer will actually qualify for genetic screening based on the most recent guidelines. But for women without a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s less clear. And genetic counseling may not be needed if you have a strong family history of cancer. It would be worth talking to your primary care doctor to see if you would be able to get genetic screening to better understand your risk,” Dalwadi said.

About the Author

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

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