Our nationally-accredited breast cancer services combine the latest treatments with compassionate, personalized care.
One in eight women will have breast cancer in her lifetime. Although a diagnosis can be overwhelming, it doesn't have to be a life sentence. If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with breast cancer, learning about the disease and your options is the best way to empower yourself to navigate treatment.
At MedStar Health, your breast cancer team involves experts with specialized training, experience, and recognition in breast oncology, radiation, surgery, radiology, pathology, genetics, rehabilitation, and more. From novel therapies and clinical trials to breast-conserving surgeries and sophisticated reconstructive procedures, we offer the latest breast cancer treatments available today. We're also leading the research and development of tomorrow's promising treatments through our partnership with the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center—one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation.
With multiple academic and community-based locations throughout the Washington, D.C., and Maryland region, we make it easy to get comprehensive breast cancer care. Whether you're at risk of developing breast cancer due to a family history or you've recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and are looking for a second opinion, we treat you like a person—not just a disease.
Symptoms and risk factors
No breasts are the same, and what's normal for you may be unusual for another woman.
It's possible to have breast cancer and not experience any signs of the disease. However, a change to your breast could be a warning sign, such as:
- Pain in any part of the breast or nipple
- A new lump in the breast or underarm
- Redness or swelling in the breast
- Grooved, dimpled, or uneven breast skin
- A change to the nipples, like inversion or flattening
- Crusting or flaking of the skin around the nipple area
- Tingling, itching, or burning in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge that is blood or rust-colored
If you notice anything new or unusual in your breasts, talk to a doctor. They can help you determine what's causing the change, whether cancer or another breast condition.
Seek care if you have a high risk of developing the disease.
Breast cancer can't always be prevented, but certain things, called risk factors, can increase your risk of developing the disease. For example, women have a greater risk of developing breast cancer than men, and this risk increases as you age. Other factors that may increase your risk of breast cancer include:
- Family history of breast cancer, especially if it's a first-degree relative, such as a mother, sister, or daughter
- Personal history of breast cancer in one or both breasts
- Radiation exposure during childhood
- BRCA genetic mutations
- Early menstruation (12 or younger) or late menopause (55 or older)
- Hormone (estrogen) replacement therapy
Some women who have risk factors never develop breast cancer, and most women who develop the disease have no known risk factors. But, if you are considered high risk for developing breast cancer, you may benefit from the resources available through our High-Risk Breast Clinic. Through a combination of breast imaging, genetic counseling, and oncology services, we’re proactive about managing and reducing your risk of disease. Your individualized risk management plan will take into account your personal preferences as well as the benefits and drawbacks of additional screening, risk-reducing surgeries, or medications.
Find out your breast cancer risk.
Our breast health risk assessment is a five-minute questionnaire that can help you learn about your personal risk of developing breast cancer. The information you provide allows our breast experts to predict your risk and offer suggestions to help you defend yourself against breast cancer, like:
- Modifying your lifestyle
- Enlisting the support of MedStar Health providers who can help you lower or manage your risk
- Scheduling a breast cancer screening at a convenient location nearby, if you're eligible
Screening and prevention
The earlier breast cancer is found, the greater the chance for a cure.
Breast cancer is easily treatable when detected early, which is why it's important to stay on top of your annual mammogram. A breast cancer screening mammogram uses imaging technology to detect signs of the disease early when there is a greater chance for a cure.
We support the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer screening recommendations:
- Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
- Women at high risk for breast cancer may benefit from an MRI and a mammogram every year, as recommended by their doctor.
- Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam as part of a regular health exam by a health professional, preferably every three years. Starting at age 40, women should have a clinical breast exam by a health professional every year.
- Starting in their 20s, women should conduct breast self-exams and report any breast changes to their health professional right away.
Our breast imaging services are nationally accredited and recognized as Centers of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. Most of our breast radiologists are fellowship-trained and focus exclusively on detecting breast abnormalities, diagnosing breast cancer, and monitoring your body's response to treatment using imaging.
In addition to regular screening, you can help lower your risk by following healthy guidelines, such as:
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a healthy diet
- Limiting your intake of alcohol to no more than one drink per day
- Avoiding smoking
Getting a second opinion.
Breast cancer treatments are becoming less invasive, more targeted, and more personalized, providing even more hope.
With new medical and surgical treatments, women (and men) who develop the disease are leading longer, fuller, and healthier lives than ever before. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, your care team will consider several factors before recommending the best treatment for you. These typically include:
- The type of breast cancer you’ve been diagnosed with
- What stage your breast cancer is in
- Whether or not the tumor has metastasized (spread)
- Whether or not your cancer has receptors for HER2, estrogen, progesterone, and others
- Your personal preferences and goals
- Other health conditions
Many patients undergo multiple breast cancer treatment options, such as a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy, to ensure that all cancer is removed—and that it doesn’t come back.
Nearly every patient with breast cancer will undergo surgery as part of treatment. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor and evaluate the lymph nodes to determine if cancer has spread. Deciding on surgery is often difficult and emotional. Our doctors take the time to help you make sense of all the considerations, including your physical health, appearance, and psychological and social concerns. When surgery is recommended, we consult the latest research findings to ensure the best care, including breast-conserving and nipple- and skin-sparing procedures.
Studies show that patients operated on by specialized surgeons get better results. At MedStar Health, all of our surgeons are board-certified, and many are fellowship-trained and recognized as "Top Docs" in the region by Baltimore magazine and the Washingtonian.
From the very beginning, all patients have the option to meet with one of our renowned plastic surgeons to discuss the vast array of reconstruction options. At MedStar Health, our surgeons are leaders in breast reconstruction, performing new and complex procedures that lead to better outcomes, including nerve restoration, lymphedema prevention, and minimized breast scarring. We use the latest procedures available to restore what cancer has taken away, including surgeries that are hard to find elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region, like lymph node transfer and microsurgical techniques in breast reconstruction.
Chemotherapy drugs can control or stop the growth of cancer cells in your breast and kill any cancer cells that could have spread beyond the breast. These drugs may be used:
- Before surgery to shrink tumors and make it easier to operate or conserve your breast
- After surgery to reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back
Medication may be administered orally, intravenously (into the veins), or via injections alone or in combination with other drugs. Each medication comes with its own risks, benefits, and side effects, and our team of experts will help navigate you through each of your treatment options.
Immunotherapy and targeted therapy
Also known as immunotherapy or biological therapy, targeted therapy is transforming breast cancer treatment by offering more powerful, less toxic approaches to eradicating the disease. Targeted therapy starts with identifying a breast cancer’s characteristics then uses drugs or other substances to trigger the body’s immune response to interfere with the way cancer cells operate. Many of our clinical trials are working to advance the standard of care for breast cancer treatment using targeted therapies.
About two out of every three breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive—meaning they contain receptors for the hormones estrogen (ER-positive) and/or progesterone (PR-positive) and are fueled by these natural chemicals. We offer the latest options in hormone therapy to lower hormone levels or stop them from acting on breast cancer cells. Also called endocrine therapy, this approach is often used with other treatments. We also are investigating new drugs in clinical trials to overcome resistance in certain breast cancers.
Chemoprevention can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 50 percent in women considered high-risk.
For patients who are considered high-risk for developing breast cancer because of their family history, genetic makeup, or personal health history, we may offer chemoprevention. Chemoprevention is medication to prevent breast cancer—or a need for chemotherapy like the name suggests. Our research shows that drugs like tamoxifen, raloxifene, and aromatase inhibitors can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by about 50 percent for women considered high risk. These drugs are in a family of medications that manipulate hormone levels. Before reaching any decision, our experts will discuss the risks, benefits, and drawbacks with you and your family so you can choose what’s right for you.
Radiation therapy plays a vital role in preventing breast cancer from coming back after surgery. At MedStar Health, our radiation oncologists are experienced and specially-trained to use new and advanced radiation techniques:
- After breast-conserving lumpectomy (i.e., partial mastectomy) to reduce the chance cancer will return to the breast or the lymph nodes
- Following a mastectomy when the tumor is larger or cancer has spread to lymph nodes
- When cancer has spread to other areas of the body
We offer all radiation therapies you'd expect and others that may be hard to find elsewhere. If radiation is part of your treatment plan, the type of radiation your radiation oncologist recommends will take into account your tumor's size, location, and other factors and may include:
- External beam radiation, a standard type of radiation therapy given over six weeks using intensity-modulated radiation therapy or 3D conformal radiation therapy technology
- Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy), which places radioactive seeds or pellets near the breast tumor
- Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), a faster, more convenient radiation therapy that offers a single dose in one visit immediately after a lumpectomy
- Proton therapy, targeted therapy with precision accuracy and less radiation dose than conventional radiation therapies
Looking for expert cancer care?
With multiple locations throughout the region, patients have access to many of the nation’s renowned cancer specialists offering high quality care, second opinions and a chance for better outcomes close to where they live and work. Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the nation’s comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), serves as the research engine allowing patients access to clinical trials that often lead to breakthroughs in cancer care.
Location: Change location Enter your location
Lucy De La Cruz, MD
Jennifer Daniella Son, MD
Breast Surgery & General Surgery
Ian Thomas Greenwalt, MD
Marc E. Boisvert, MD
Surgical Oncology & Breast Surgery
Kelly Lynne Fritz, MD
Maen Jamel Farha, MD
Robert Thomas Howard, MD
Breast Surgery, Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery & Plastic Surgery
Patricia B Wehner, MD
Atsuko Okabe, MD
Daria Abolghasemi, DO
Theresa Lynne Stukus, ANP-BC
Breast Medical Oncology & Hematology Oncology
Mahsa Mohebtash, MD
Hematology, Breast Medical Oncology & Medical Oncology
Joyce Marie Slingerland, MD,PhD
Breast Medical Oncology
Nadia Ashai, MD
Breast Medical Oncology
Claudine Isaacs, MD
Cancer Genetics & Breast Medical Oncology
Marc E. Lippman, MD
Breast Medical Oncology
Candace Mainor, MD
Breast Medical Oncology
Nora Rose Sudarsan, DO
Elizabeth A. Strand, CRNP
Behzad Doratotaj, MD
Dongyan Liu, MD
Hematology & Medical Oncology
Ami A. Chitalia, MD
Shweta Kurian, MD
Amir M Khan, MD
Christopher Michael Gallagher, MD
Charles A Padgett, MD
Anatoly Dritschilo, MD
Sonali Rudra, MD
Andrew Satinsky, MD
Luther Lorenzo Ampey, MD
Kamila Anna Nowak Choi, MD
Kelly E. Orwat, MD
Sean Philip Collins, MD
K William Harter, MD
Keith Robert Unger, MD
Sarcoma And Connective Tissue Medical Oncology & Radiation Oncology
Paul Byron Fowler, MD
Nitika Paudel, MD
Peter H Ahn, MD
Adedamola Omogbehin, MD
Pamela Dawn Randolph Jackson, MD
Stephen Krystjan Ronson, MD
Distance from Change locationEnter your location
3800 Reservoir Rd., NW Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Lombardi Clinic Ground Floor Washington, DC 20007
1133 21st St., NW Bldg. 2 Ste. 800 Washington, DC 20036
40900 Merchants Lane Ste. 102 Leonardtown, MD 20650
110 Irving St. NW Washington Cancer Institute 1st Floor Washington, DC 20010
3001 S. Hanover St. Baltimore, MD 21225
7501 Surratts Rd. Ste. 305 Clinton, MD 20735
18101 Prince Philip Dr. Ste. 6100 Olney, MD 20832
12 MedStar Blvd. Ste. 180 Bel Air, MD 21015
5601 Loch Raven Blvd. Russell Morgan Building Suite 403B Baltimore, MD 21239
9101 Franklin Square Dr. Baltimore, MD 21237
All the benefits of academic medicine within the comfort of community-based settings.
Our partnership with the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center means you benefit from the latest education, research, cutting-edge technologies, and therapies that lead to the best care wherever you visit us. With multiple community-based hospitals and outpatient offices throughout the Washington, D.C., and Maryland region, you don't have to travel far to get exceptional breast cancer treatment. For example, our team of breast experts are:
- Developing new treatment options for early-stage triple-negative breast cancer
- Pioneering research in understanding how to personalize risk-management and treatment options based on genetics
- The first in the region to offer intraoperative radiation therapy for early-stage breast cancer treatment
- Revolutionizing lymphedema prevention and management through sophisticated reconstructive surgeries that are hard to find elsewhere
- Investigating healthcare disparities within our region so we can make state-of-the-art breast care more accessible for underserved communities
Multidisciplinary care, which leads to better breast cancer survival rates.
Through weekly meetings called "tumor boards," our experts across multiple medical backgrounds work together to form personalized treatment plans for each patient's unique needs. Our team approach ensures we carefully consider every aspect of your case to give you the greatest chance of beating cancer—and the best quality of life during and after treatment. Research proves that patients who receive cancer care from a multidisciplinary team benefit from higher survival rates, improved mental health and overall well-being, and lower costs of care.
Innovative treatment options, including those developed by our own physicians and researchers.
We offer the most advanced tools and treatments available to treat all stages of breast cancer, from time-saving and heart-sparing radiation therapies to groundbreaking clinical trials and complex breast-conserving and reconstructive surgeries paving the way for new and effective cancer treatment. Our team works closely with the MedStar Health Research coordinator and MedStar Cancer Registry to identify patients every week that may be eligible for specific clinical trials. Nearly one-quarter of our patients with breast cancer participate in clinical trials.
Comprehensive support for patients and their families.
We offer a variety of support services to connect patients with the right specialists and resources wherever they are in their patient journey. For example, we help patients with a high risk of breast cancer proactively manage their risks through genetic counseling and personalized plans. And, if you're diagnosed with breast cancer, you can count on a dedicated nurse navigator to help you understand your options and serve as your primary point of contact during treatment and into survivorship.
Clinical trials and research
Clinical trials test new and innovative ways to treat breast cancer using various treatment modalities, offering hope to patients dealing with all stages of breast cancer. We currently offer over 30 different breast clinical trials in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute and world pharmaceutical companies.
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is the research engine driving evidence-based cancer care throughout MedStar Health. Through this partnership, our breast team investigates innovative ways to improve the standard of breast care or define new standards of care.
Awards and recognition
Full accreditation from the National Accreditation program for Breast Centers (NAPBC)
Accredited and designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR)
Recipient of an Accreditation with Commendation, the highest level of approval, from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer (CoC)
Consistent winners of the Women's Choice Awards for "Comprehensive Breast Centers" and "Best Mammogram Imaging Center"
Numerous breast surgeons, reconstructive surgeons, and surgical oncologists recognized as "Top Doctors" by both Baltimore Magazine and the Washingtonian
Magnet® designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
Musician with metastatic breast cancer is thriving after diagnosis with clinical trial
After being diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer, Lena Markley decided she wasn't going to let her diagnosis define her life. With the help of a clinical trial at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a little optimism, and some really good friends, Lena is still thriving more than seven years after her original diagnosis.
Mom with breast cancer gets life-changing section opinion
Melissa Belsinger was newly diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer when she sought a second opinion from the cancer experts at MedStar Health on the MedStar Health Medical Campus at Bel Air. There, her cancer journey took a remarkable turn. As a Harford County resident and busy mom, Melissa could conveniently navigate her care and meet her medical team close to home.
Breast cancer survivor is grateful for her experience
Breast cancer survivor Hope Poliansky discusses her journey with cancer treatment and the world-class care she received at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital.
Elite mountain climber undergoes breast cancer treatment
Breast cancer can strike when you least expect it, as Kathleen Rawlings can attest. MedStar Health cancer experts Maen Farha, MD, and Mahsa Mohebtash, MD, appear with Rawlings on WMAR's Midday Maryland program to discuss her case.
Mom under 50 battles stage II breast cancer
Kim Wells shares her journey battling breast cancer with the support of her family and the cancer doctors and nurses at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center.
You are more than just a cancer diagnosis, and that's why we offer a full spectrum of support services to promote healing, comfort, and education. Aside from your medical providers, your care team involves social workers, psychologists, and nurse navigators—nurses who guide you and your family through the coordination of care, the delivery of services, and the tough decision-making. Services also include:
- Nutritional counseling
- Spiritual care
- Support groups and peer-to-peer counseling
- Complementary care
Does cancer run in your family? Were you diagnosed with cancer at a young age? Does someone in your family carry the BRCA gene mutation? If you answered yes to any of these questions, genetic counseling—and possibly genetic testing—can provide you and your family with valuable information about risk management for hereditary cancers. Although only five to ten percent of cancers are due to inherited genes, genetic counseling can help you:
- Understand any cancer risks associated with your family history
- Identify inherited mutations that can cause cancer
- Make decisions about treatment after a diagnosis
- Help the next generation of your family manage their risks for developing breast cancer
Through our partnership with the Georgetown Lombardi Fisher Center for Hereditary Cancer and Clinical Genomics Research, we are leaders in local, national, and international genetics research that is finding better ways to detect, treat, and prevent hereditary cancers.
Rehabilitation can help you deal with any challenges associated with breast cancer treatment and recovery, from lingering pain to proactive lymphedema management. Our specially-trained doctors, nutritionists, and physical and occupational therapists at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network help you fully recuperate and regain strength as you heal.
Once you beat cancer, it's common to feel a mix of feelings, from relief to uncertainty about your new normal. Through our survivorship program, we help you transition to life after cancer treatment by offering compassionate and coordinated post-cancer care that involves:
- Follow-up medical care to address any late side effects from treatment
- Personalized plans to minimize the risk of cancer recurrence
- Support and coping strategies for emotional needs
- Guidance for transitions in your family life
- Encouragement and resources for healthy lifestyle changes