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Breast Cancer

One in eight women will have breast cancer during her lifetime, and 85% of these cases occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. As a highly prevalent yet highly treatable cancer, preventive screenings and advanced breast health care are a vital part of women’s health. 

The MaryEllen Locher Breast Center offers patients access to some of the most advanced treatments available. Our center is unique in its coordinated approach to monitoring for early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Our multidisciplinary team of surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, a dedicated breast imaging radiologist, reconstructive surgeons, pathologists, and clinical staff collaborate to offer sensitive, technologically advanced care that is responsive to your needs.

  • Discovering a breast abnormality is alarming, and you want to know as soon as possible what it is. CHI Memorial’s breast surgeons and specialized staff are committed to providing same day diagnostic imaging, surgical consultation, and biopsy to reduce the typically long journey.
  • Each week the full multidisciplinary team reviews all breast disease cases to ensure the optimal treatment plan is designed especially for each patient.
  • Dedicated nurses with special expertise explain procedures, answer questions, and empower patients with information and guidance every step of the way from diagnosis of a breast concern through recovery. As a partner and advocate, the nurse navigator gives special attention to the various needs of patients and their families.

Cancer risk counseling

Cancer risk assessment and genetic testing are available when appropriate for individuals with a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Between 5% and 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, meaning the disease is often a result of gene defects. Breast cancer related to genes is most common in families who have multiple members with the disease. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most common cause of hereditary breast cancer. If you have inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2, you have a higher risk of developing breast cancer during your lifetime. Breast cancers linked to these mutations occur more often in younger women. These inherited mutations also increase the risk of developing other cancers, particularly ovarian cancer.

Breast cancer second opinions

The MaryEllen Locher Breast Center at CHI Memorial offers a second opinion clinic to help women explore all options in order to choose the best care for their breast cancer journey. A physician referral is not necessary to receive a second opinion, and many insurance policies cover a second opinion review.  A second opinion involves a review of your imaging and/or biopsy results. Women whose mammogram showed an abnormality can seek a second opinion before a having a biopsy. Others may want help understanding their diagnosis or have questions about treatment options.

A multidisciplinary breast care team including breast surgeons, oncologists, a dedicated breast imaging specialist and pathologist will review breast imaging and pathology results to develop a personalized treatment recommendation. The multidisciplinary team will review your case within one week. A nurse navigator will explain the process of the Second Opinion Clinic based on the woman’s concerns and will guide her through obtaining the necessary records for our breast specialists to review. A women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) who coordinates the Second Opinion Clinic will review the recommendations with each woman.

For more information about a second opinion for an abnormal mammogram or for treatment options after a breast cancer diagnosis, call (423) 495-6744.

Male breast cancer 

Male breast cancer is rare, with approximately 2,600 invasive breast cancer diagnoses each year. Most male breast cancers are infiltrating ductal carcinomas (IDC) – meaning the cells around the milk ducts in the breast begin to invade nearby tissue. Other kinds of breast cancer in men include infiltrating (or invasive) lobular carcinomas, which affect the milk glands, or Paget Disease where cancer in the breast spreads to the nipple. Learn more

Breast cancer symptoms

It’s important to be aware of the normal state of your breasts so that you can notice any potential changes. Monthly self-exams and yearly clinical exams are good ways to note any abnormalities that could be signs of breast cancer. Symptoms can include:

  • Breast size or shape changes
  • Skin dimpling or puckering
  • Lumps, hard knots, or thickening inside the breast or underarm
  • Breast swelling, redness or darkening, or warmth
  • An itchy nipple sore or rash
  • Sudden nipple discharge
  • Breast or nipple inversion or retraction
  • New, persistent pain in one area

If you experience any of these symptoms suddenly or would like to assess your personal breast cancer risk, talk to your primary care physician. 

Breast cancer screenings and diagnosis

More than 180,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year. However, 98% of breast cancers are survivable with early detection. CHI Memorial offers screening and diagnostic imaging including:   

  • Digital mammography
  • Breast MRI with biopsy capabilities
  • Breast ultrasound
  • Stereotactic and ultrasound-guided needle biopsy

Breast cancer treatment and surgery

The physicians at CHI Memorial, including breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, and radiation oncologists, provide advanced, multidisciplinary care to our patients. We use a compassionate, collaborative approach to create a personalized treatment plan. Some of the treatments and procedures we provide include:

  • Breast cancer surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy


Breast and reconstructive surgeons work as a team, planning the surgery to provie the best medical and cosmetic outcome possible. Learn more

Support at every step

Our cancer patients have access to a nurse navigator, a designated point of contact who can educate you on the disease process, answer questions, help you prepare physically and emotionally for treatment, provide resources and connect you with other modes of support throughout this journey. These include access to dietitians, clinical social workers, massage therapists, and chaplains who focus on spiritual care and advance care planning.  Call (423) 495-7778 for more information. 

Chattanooga's only fellowship-trained breast surgeons

Dr. Betsy Washburn and Dr. Takeyla Williams with CHI Memorial Breast Care Associates provide surgical treatment for breast cancer. 

Betsy Washburn

Betsy Washburn, MD

Breast Cancer Surgery Medical Director, Surgical Oncologist 

Takeyla Williams

Takeyla Williams, MD

Surgical Oncologist