Q&A With Moira O'Riordan, MD, Co-Director of Stamford Health's Breast Center

Published: November 11, 2020

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Q: How and when did you know breast imaging was your calling?

A: I always wanted to be a doctor! I wanted to be many different types of doctors. Breast radiology, in particular, offers an intellectual aspect of problem-solving. I also like people.

Q: What drew you to Stamford Health as an organization? What do you value most about Stamford Health’s Breast Center?

A: Stamford Health’s values of teamwork, compassion, integrity, respect, and accountability are similar to my own. I was attracted to Stamford Health’s Breast Center because patients get to work with radiologists dedicated only to breast imaging. This type of focused clinical excellence is not something you can find at every breast center.

As an example, we offer same-day results during business hours at all of our locations, as well as walk-in and evening hours, which shows our true commitment to every patient that walks through our doors.

Moira O'Riordan, MDQ: Tell us the top 3 things you’d want a woman to know about her breast health.

1. Don’t be afraid of getting a mammogram. Mammography saves lives. Get one every year or more often if your doctor says you’re at high risk.
2. Make sure your OB/GYN does regular breast checks during your routine gynecological exams. He or she should feel around for any lumps or masses.
3. Prevention is also important but easy to forget. Get enough sleep, don’t overdo it on the alcohol, eat right, exercise and strive to be healthy.

Q: What is one piece of advice you give your patients/friends/family as it relates to their breast health?

A: I repeat, get a mammogram and take care of yourself. Please don't make excuses for avoiding or delaying your mammogram.

Q: Do mammograms hurt?

A: No, mammograms don’t hurt. They don’t. Mammograms used to hurt, but they don’t anymore.

Q: What do you tell your friends or family members to expect before a mammogram?

A: Please, do not wear deodorant before a mammogram: this is important! If you do, we may see what looks like calcifications on your mammogram. We’ll just make you wipe off the deodorant and do it again. Also, in case you were wondering, deodorant does not cause breast cancer. (Neither do underwire bras.)

Q: In an ideal world, what breast cancer advancements do you hope to see 5, even 10, years from now?

A: While we know that early detection with mammograms has saved many lives, my hope for all cancers is that we’ll be able to detect them with a blood test. This would be the single greatest leap in the history of cancer diagnosis and research. We have a long way to go since we haven’t yet figured out the common denominator between all cancers.

I hope to become part of major studies that come one step closer to achieving the goal of a simple blood test to diagnose cancer.

Q: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a breast radiologist?

A: Medical school is a long road but shift your mindset and try not to think of it that way. You have to go step by step by step, not look at the big picture. Something is rewarding at every stage of medical school. You have to just do it and you can have a life while doing it.

Q: Tell us something interesting and unique about yourself!

A: I’m West Coast born and raised. As someone who works full time, moms full time and co-runs a breast center, I read a crazy number of books. Every 1-3 days, I finish a book. I’ll read anything: romance, classics, romantic comedies, you name it. My favorite is Ulysses by James Joyce. I re-read it every few years. Mary Oliver is my favorite poet.

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