Published on April 17, 2015

woman dr. and patient mammo

Intercepting Breast Cancer

Sonia Barrientos gets a mammogram every year. The Silver Spring wife and mom is especially diligent because her sister died of breast cancer four years ago.

At her annual screening in August 2014, doctors discovered a lump. She soon underwent a biopsy with Sonya Kella, MD, at the Shady Grove Breast Center in Rockville. The lump was not cancerous; however, Barrientos still wanted it removed because of what had happened to her sister. She was leaving nothing to chance.

That’s when Barrientos met Cynthia Plate, MD, a breast surgeon at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center and medical director of the Adventist HealthCare White Oak Breast Center. “Thanks to God that he put me in such good hands,” Barrientos says. During her surgery to remove the noncancerous lump, Dr. Plate discovered a second lump that turned out to be cancerous.

“Sonia saved her own life,” Dr. Plate says. “She understood her family history and risk, and she was determined to have a different outcome for her family.”

In the weeks after surgery, Barrientos visited Dr. Plate at the White Oak Breast Center to discuss her recovery. The center, which opened in November 2014, offers advanced imaging services such as 3-D mammography as well as specialized services like breast ultrasound, minimally invasive biopsies and on-site breast surgery consultations—all in one location in the White Oak area of Silver Spring. “Our experienced and caring team is focused on breast cancer prevention and early intervention tailored to the individual,” Dr. Plate says.

Barrientos urges all women to get their mammograms every year. The American Cancer Society recommends annual screenings for women starting at age 40. Experts also suggest that women discuss risk factors and the right tests with their doctors.

To those women facing cancer, Barrientos says, “You have to confront the disease. Don’t be scared. You have to be strong enough to fight for your life.”

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