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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Deborah Interviews Radiologist Dr. Dana Bonaminio

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Deborah interviewed radiologist Dr. Dana Bonaminio about her work in breast imaging, cancer and skin care, and how empowerment that comes from taking an active role in your own breast health.

Dr. Dana Bonaminio is a fellowship-trained, board-certified radiologist specializing in breast imaging and procedures. Dr. Bonaminio graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, received her medical degree from University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and subsequently completed her residency and fellowship training in Breast Imaging at Indiana University. She is currently the Medical Co-director of Breast Imaging at a private practice group in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Bonaminio has a deep passion for the American Medical Women’s Association, assuming national leadership roles throughout residency and fellowship. She is an active member of the Society for Breast Imaging, Tennessee Radiological Society, and American Association for Women Radiologists. As an avid supporter of breast health, Dr. Bonaminio regularly participates in Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events.

What drew you to breast imaging as a subspecialty?

Being a part of patient care and having the opportunity to impact women’s health in the early detection of breast cancer and other breast-related issues is a great honor! I love my patients and thoroughly enjoy working as a team with breast surgeons, pathologists, and oncologists to ensure the overall success of each patient.

What do you feel is important for every woman to know about breast health?

Taking an active role in your own breast health is empowering! Consider a few basics for preventative care regarding your breasts. First, for those over 40 get your annual mammogram, as recommended by major health institutions such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American College of Radiology. Additionally, scheduling regular clinical exams may assist with early detection and identification of breast problems. Second, know your risk factors for developing breast cancer, such as family history and breast density. This information helps your health providers facilitate more rigorous screening techniques if necessary, including genetic testing, 3D imaging, and possibly breast MRI. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is also critical to reducing the risk of many medical diseases, including breast cancer. Poor diet, obesity, and alcohol consumption have all been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. Lastly, being your own advocate and knowing your own body is essential to maintaining breast health. Pay attention to changes in your breasts with self-examinations and be familiar with monthly changes in your breasts that might coincide with your menstrual cycle.

What are some of the skin care issues you see with women after during and after treatment

Skin care issues are very common during treatment of breast cancer, including post-operative surgical changes along with radiation and chemotherapy skin changes. In general, skin can become dry or more sensitive, as chemotherapy can reduce the amount of oil that is secreted by the skin. Using a gentle, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer more frequently or a heavier-weight moisturizer may help combat dryness and flakiness.

Skin can become more sensitive to the sun, particularly skin that has undergone radiation treatments. Consider using products that protect your skin from the sun–blocking UVA and UVB rays is essential.

I always advise patients to address their specific skin care concerns with their treating medical and radiation oncologists.

What are some of the common misconceptions or myths about breast cancer?

Often, women without a family history of breast cancer feel that they are at low risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. In reality, most breast cancers are diagnosed in women without a family history–up to 80%, in fact. Additionally, the use of deodorants or antiperspirants, shaving, or wearing an underwire bra have not been shown to increase your risk of breast cancer. Another myth I hear regularly is that women with small breasts don’t have as much risk of breast cancer as women with larger breasts. The size of a woman’s breast bears no relation to her risk of developing breast cancer.

What is your advice to family and friends who have a loved one who has been recently diagnosed?

I always recommend that my newly diagnosed patients bring along a family member or trusted friend to each appointment, particularly at initial visits with the patient’s care team–including breast surgeons, medical and radiation oncologist–as the information can be overwhelming. It’s helpful to have another set of ears, as well as another mind, to ask questions and remind the patient of what was actually discussed at the appointment. I encourage patients to write down their questions and concerns between appointments so each can be adequately addressed, as it’s typical to forget or “freeze” when asked if there are any questions toward the end of an office visit.

Utilize your Breast Nurse Navigator! Nurse Navigators are patient advocates that meet with patients during the initial phases of diagnosis, providing information and education, hopefully reducing a portion of the stress involved. She is a teacher and liaison throughout the entire cancer journey, learning the physical and social needs of the patients and their families, often offering referrals and coordinating the patient’s multidisciplinary care.

What are additional resources available for patients with questions regarding screening mammography and breast cancer?

The Society of Breast Imaging’s website is a great resource to help end the confusion on why it’s essential to begin screening mammograms at 40 years of age. Free downloadable webinars, flyers, and resources guides are available to patients, as well as additional information regarding what it’s like to get your first mammogram and understanding your own personal breast cancer risk.

Tell us about your experience with Sumbody.

Believe it or not, I was introduced to Sumbody products by my husband. After finding out I was pregnant, my skin became a complete nightmare, so much so that I would dread getting up and looking the mirror each morning. Between the hormonal changes, the cystic acne, and the limitations on what prescription products are safe to use during pregnancy, it was a terrible time for me. After seeing two dermatologists and feeling defeated, I started using Sumbody products twice a day – particularly the Citrus Splash Salt Scrub. Within just a few weeks, I noticed a drastic improvement in the blemishes, red spots, and overall skin discoloration. I never expected to have clear skin throughout the remainder of this pregnancy and had resigned myself to 9 months of cringeworthy skin. Sumbody has made ALL the difference for me – and I am so thankful for the smooth, blemish-free skin!