Habib Rahbar, MD

Clinical Director, Breast Imaging
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Associate Professor, Department of Radiology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Physician
UW Medicine
Clinical expertise
Breast imaging
“I love the colleagues I get to work with at SCCA. Everyone is invested in providing the best possible care.”
— Dr. Rahbar
What do you enjoy about working in breast cancer radiology?

I was initially drawn to radiology as a field because I liked figuring out the puzzle — using technology to peer inside the body and see what was causing a person’s symptoms — and then sharing that information with them. But a lot of specialties within radiology have very limited face time with patients. Breast imaging is an exception; there’s much more opportunity for direct contact with the people I care for. Many of my interactions are short and joyful: women breathing a huge sigh of relief because I’ve told them that their scans are clear and everything looks great. In the scenarios where I do end up diagnosing cancer, I collaborate with talented breast surgeons, oncologists, radiation oncologists and other staff to create a comprehensive plan for managing the disease. I love the colleagues I get to work with at SCCA. Everyone is invested in providing the best possible care. 

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What personal experiences have informed your approach to care?

When my dad was diagnosed with bile duct cancer, I learned a lot in terms of how to talk to patients and families, how to read the room and how to make sure that each piece of information I’m providing is clear. Even if you’re knowledgeable about your condition and what could happen, it’s hard to hear what a physician is saying to you because there are all these things going on in the back of your mind that prevent you from focusing and thinking clearly. When I sit down with patients now, I slow down, and I don’t leave the room until I know that everyone understands what I’ve shared.  

Provider background

Specialties and clinical expertise: Radiology

Breast cancer

I am a board-certified radiologist who uses medical imaging to screen for, diagnose and manage breast cancer. I also serve as the clinical director of breast imaging at SCCA. In this role, I ensure that our clinical practices are steeped in evidence and that we are providing patient-centered care. 

My research is focused on improving the management of ductal carcinoma in situ. Known as DCIS, this early-stage breast cancer begins in the milk ducts and has not spread to the surrounding breast tissue. It is difficult to predict which women with DCIS will go on to develop invasive breast cancer. As a result, sometimes patients can be overtreated. I use advanced imaging (MRI) to identify which forms of DCIS may merit less treatment for example, surgery rather than both surgery and radiation. My goal is to offer more precise care for patients by better matching treatments to biology through imaging. 

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
University of Pennsylvania
Medical Degree
University of Michigan
Residency
University of Washington, Diagnostic Radiology
Fellowship
University of Washington, Breast Imaging
Board Certification
Diagnostic Radiology, 2010, American Board of Radiology
Other
Internship, Swedish Hospital Medical Center
Languages
English

Stories

What Can You Expect During Your First Mammogram? And Other Questions, Answered

SCCA’s Habib Rahbar, MD, spoke with Lifehacker about mammograms and preventative breast cancer screenings. 

Research

Clinical trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by SCCA doctors. Many of these trials at SCCA have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.

Publications

Many of our SCCA physicians conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other physicians and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this SCCA provider has written.

Press

SCCA providers are often asked to give their medical expertise for press and news publications. Read articles by or about this SCCA provider.

Closing the Chapter on Supplemental Breast Cancer Screening with US

SCCA's Habib Rahbar, MD, wrote about the limitations of breast cancer screening in young women and women with mammographically dense breasts.

What Can You Expect During Your First Mammogram? And Other Questions, Answered

SCCA’s Habib Rahbar, MD, spoke with Lifehacker about mammograms and preventative breast cancer screenings. 

Your care team

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a team coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Registered nurse (RN)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your physician and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Team coordinator (TC)
Your team coordinator works closely with you and your physician and serves as your scheduler.

Insurance

SCCA accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.

For providers