Unexpected diagnosis compels woman’s advocacy for annual mammograms

For decades, Susan Dial routinely got her annual mammogram. Usually, she received an “everything’s fine, see you in a year” communication from her doctor.

Things changed in 2014.

“I had just moved to Northern Virginia from South Carolina and my mammogram was due,” Dial said.  “I made an appointment with a new health care provider.”

“In fact, the initial images looked okay as I understand until Dr. Brian Godinez, a Fairfax Radiology Center radiologist, compared them to images from a mammogram I had in South Carolina the year before,” she explained. “There was one very small area that didn’t look the same, and that’s why a biopsy was recommended.”

Dr. Lee Spangler, FRC Radiologist, Breast Imaging, performed the biopsy.

“I will never forget the moment Dr. Spangler told me the news,” Dial said. “He looked into my eyes and said, ‘It’s cancer.’”

“I didn’t really react at all for a minute or longer, so Dr. Spangler asked, ‘Mrs. Dial, are you all right?’”

“I didn’t tell him at the time, but I was having another conversation in my mind. I was not frightened, worried or panicked,” she recalled. “I was asking, ‘Lord, how are we going to handle this?’”

Dial is a woman of strong Biblical faith.

“I am never alone,” she said. “I was fully persuaded that everything was going to be all right.”

“The type of cancer was an invasive ductal carcinoma, one of the most common kinds of cancer that we diagnose,” said Spangler. “It is a perfect example of why routine screening is so important: routine screening has been shown again and again to find cancers early.”

Dial was in her 60s when the cancer was diagnosed.

“Breast cancer risk continues to increase as women age,” Spangler explained.  “More than half of breast cancer diagnoses are in women aged 50-69,” he said.

“However, getting screening mammograms sometimes takes backstage to other health issues,” he continued.

Spangler performed the diagnostic work up for Dial, and also performed her biopsy.

Unexpected diagnosis compels woman’s advocacy for annual mammograms

“I had every confidence in my doctors, and felt an immediate bond with them,” she said. “I love them.”

“All of my colleagues in the Breast Imaging Section have advanced subspecialty breast training,” Spangler said. “We choose to exclusively practice breast imaging because we feel strongly about making a difference in women’s lives and health.”

Statistics affirm Dr. Spangler’s position that expertise matters. Fairfax Radiology Centers consistently exceed national and regional breast cancer detection rates, measured by the National Mammography Database, American College of Radiology.

The cancer found in Dial was half the size of the average cancer detected by a mammogram.

“It was 5mm in size,” Spangler said. “The average size breast cancer found on a mammogram is 10mm or 1cm.”

“The cancer in Mrs. Dial was found quite early and is a testament to how early detection can decrease burden of treatment and increase rate of survival.”

Dial and her medical team chose surgery to remove the cancer, followed estrogen-blocking medication.  Fellowship-trained breast surgeon Costanza Cocilova M.D. performed the surgery at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Today, Susan Dial is more than five years cancer-free. She is living in northern Virginia in a cottage on her son’s farm. Dial is an ordained minister and makes it her mission to counsel and pray for those who are sick.

She credits Dr. Godinez for finding “the smallest cancer he ever detected” and Dr. Spangler for expert care.

“Women need to know that having mammogram images for their doctors to compare from year to year is so important—it’s why they caught the cancer in me so early,” she said.

Today, Dial leads an active lifestyle, fulfilling “her calling” to the nation’s capital.

“I speak at churches, Bible schools, and other groups,” she said. “Ministering to others is something that I do every day.”

Dial has this advice for women who are age 40 and older: “Get your annual mammograms on time, every year, without fail because preventive care could save your life.”

Established in 1965, Fairfax Radiological Consultants, PLLC is the largest subspecialty radiology practice in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

During 2020, a joint venture between the physicians of Fairfax Radiological Consultants, P.C., in conjunction with Fairfax Radiology Centers, LLC, and Inova/Radiology Imaging Associates expanded to include over 90 subspecialized radiologists and 800 employees.

FRC provides leading-edge medical imaging at more than 20 outpatient locations throughout Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. FRC works with local hospitals and health care providers to deliver an excellent patient experience and top quality specialized care.  

Fairfax Radiology Breast Centers are recognized as an American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Center of Excellence in Mammography, Breast Ultrasound, Stereotactic Breast Biopsy and Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy.

Unexpected diagnosis compels woman’s advocacy for annual mammograms

“I had every confidence in my doctors, and felt an immediate bond with them,” she said. “I love them.”

“All of my colleagues in the Breast Imaging Section have advanced subspecialty breast training,” Spangler said. “We choose to exclusively practice breast imaging because we feel strongly about making a difference in women’s lives and health.”

Statistics affirm Dr. Spangler’s position that expertise matters. Fairfax Radiology Centers consistently exceed national and regional breast cancer detection rates, measured by the National Mammography Database, American College of Radiology.

The cancer found in Dial was half the size of the average cancer detected by a mammogram.

“It was 5mm in size,” Spangler said. “The average size breast cancer found on a mammogram is 10mm or 1cm.”

“The cancer in Mrs. Dial was found quite early and is a testament to how early detection can decrease burden of treatment and increase rate of survival.”

Dial and her medical team chose surgery to remove the cancer, followed estrogen-blocking medication.  Fellowship-trained breast surgeon Costanza Cocilova M.D. performed the surgery at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Today, Susan Dial is more than five years cancer-free. She is living in Northern Virginia in a cottage on her son’s farm. Dial is an ordained minister and makes it her mission to counsel and pray for those who are sick.

She credits Dr. Godinez for finding “the smallest cancer he ever detected” and Dr. Spangler for expert care.

“Women need to know that having mammogram images for their doctors to compare from year to year is so important—it’s why they caught the cancer in me so early,” she said.

Today, Dial leads an active lifestyle, fulfilling “her calling” to the nation’s capital.

“I speak at churches, Bible schools, and other groups,” she said. “Ministering to others is something that I do every day.”

Dial has this advice for women who are age 40 and older: “Get your annual mammograms on time, every year, without fail because preventive care could save your life.”

Established in 1965, Fairfax Radiological Consultants, PLLC is the largest subspecialty radiology practice in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

During 2020, a joint venture between the physicians of Fairfax Radiological Consultants, P.C., in conjunction with Fairfax Radiology Centers, LLC, and Inova/Radiology Imaging Associates expanded to include over 90 subspecialized radiologists and 800 employees.

FRC provides leading-edge medical imaging at more than 20 outpatient locations throughout Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. FRC works with local hospitals and health care providers to deliver an excellent patient experience and top quality specialized care.  

Fairfax Radiology Breast Centers are recognized as an American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Center of Excellence in Mammography, Breast Ultrasound, Stereotactic Breast Biopsy and Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy.

The radiologists at Fairfax Radiology Centers are affiliated with the region’s top-ranked hospitals and are consistently selected as “Top Doctors” by Northern Virginia and Washingtonian magazines. For more information, visit www.fairfaxradiology.com.

During 2020, a joint venture between the physicians of Fairfax Radiological Consultants, P.C., in conjunction with Fairfax Radiology Centers, LLC, and Inova/Radiology Imaging Associates expanded to include over 90 subspecialized radiologists and 800 employees.

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