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Heaven sent

HALO Breast Pap Test is another tool doctor uses for assessing risk of breast cancer in young women 18 to 50.

October 21, 2009|By Joyce Rudolph

The La Cañada High School grad had her first surgery for a benign breast tumor at 19.

“That tumor was very large,” she said. “It grew from the size of a quarter and within a month, it was almost as large as an orange,” she said.

Mollett does monthly self-breast examinations and recently discovered another tumor on the opposite breast.

She contacted Susan E. Downey, attending plastic surgeon at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, who performed the first surgery.


Downey, a colleague of Attai’s, recommended Mollett go to Attai for an ultrasound, and when she did, they discussed her taking the HALO test, Mollett said.

She’s an example of a patient who should have the HALO test because she has had two tumors within 10 years, Downey said, adding it’s another way to find out why the tumors keep recurring.

“It’s one more screening test that can be used in young women as part of the whole work-up, especially in a young woman like Maggie who is now coming with a second problem with her breast,” Downey said.

Attai did an ultrasound and discovered a second smaller tumor. Both tumors will be removed by Downey in November, Mollett said.

A litigation paralegal, Mollett said she read about the HALO test on Attai’s website,, before consenting to having it.

“I decided why not have it,” she said. “It’s less painful than a pap smear.”

Now she’s recommending it to other young women in her law office and at least 10 plan to have it as well, she said.

“It’s so important for women my age to take their health serious,” Mollett said. “Anything you can do to have more information about this disease the better.”

Mollett had a wake-up call at 19 that told her she couldn’t take her health for granted.

“I realized I was not going to live forever and I’m now on top of it,” she said.

Now she exercises six days a week, is on the Mediterranean Diet, doesn’t smoke and limits her alcohol intact to family special occasions, she said.

A low-fat diet will lower one’s risk of obesity and heart disease and can also potentially reduce one’s risk for development of certain cancers, Attai said. If one is overweight, they are at higher risk for breast cancer.

“Maggie eats nothing processed and has a moderate amount of healthy fat,” Attai said. “Instead of a cheeseburger, she will have avocado or olive oil on her salmon.”

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