Breast cancer is the number one cancer detected in women, with one in eight women affected. Everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer: a mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, friend or coworker. Dr. Daniel Shekleton of Raleigh Radiology, which is a member of the radiologist-owned alliance Collaborative Imaging, is no different. After his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 48 and died from treatment complications four years later, Dr. Shekleton was inspired to be a
champion of breast imaging. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Shekleton shares his insights on his path to radiology and how female patients can educate themselves on the benefits of regular screenings.
What led you to pursue a career in radiology and what’s your experience with mammography?
During my Internal Medicine Residency Program at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, I enjoyed going to the radiology department to discuss my patient’s imaging findings with the radiologists. I soon came to realize that radiology would be both an enjoyable and meaningful profession.
Since completing my Breast Imaging Fellowship, I’ve been practicing breast imaging now for almost 13 years. Prior to moving to North Carolina, I was the section chief of breast imaging for one of the largest radiology groups in the country, and was the lead interpreting physician for 25 hospitals and clinics spanning four states. I recently moved to North Carolina and joined Raleigh Radiology. Here, I am part of an amazing breast imaging team of radiologists, technologists, physician assistants, staff and an administrative team that believes in providing compassionate, quality care.
How would you describe mammography to a new patient? And when should someone start thinking about making an appointment for a mammogram?
Mammography is a low dose x-ray examination of the breast. A normal screening mammogram is composed of four images, two of each breast, and is done with the breast in compression for only a few seconds. If you are a woman of average risk for breast cancer, the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging recommend annual screening mammography beginning at age 40. For women at higher risk for breast cancer (genetic predisposition or a strong family history of breast cancer) screening recommendations vary and one should consult with their primary care physician.
Have there been any technology advancements at your practice as it relates to mammography?
In today’s world, there seems to be a new technology every year and breast imaging is no different. Breast MRI, digital mammography, 3D mammography and 3D biopsy capability, to name only a few, have dramatically changed the way we practice over the past 13 years. However, technology is only useful if used. Sadly, only two thirds of eligible women in the United States get mammograms.
How do you educate your female patients on the benefits of regular screening?
I believe what we do as a mammography team is important and truly makes a difference in people’s lives. Because of this, I try to be a champion of breast imaging, and especially of annual screening mammography that begins at age 40. This has been proven to save the most lives from breast cancer and has led to a 40% decrease in deaths from breast cancer since its introduction. I speak at community events, provide education to primary care physicians, and most importantly, I discuss the importance of screening mammography everyday with my patients.
Make a difference. Share the facts below to spread awareness.