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Breast Cancer Program



Our facility is fully accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers through the American College of Surgeons. NAPBC-accredited centers provide access to comprehensive care by a multidisciplinary team, information about ongoing clinical trials, and new treatment options.

The Breast Care Program at the MWHC Regional Cancer Center (RCC) ensures that patients receive a lifetime continuum of care, providing everything from routine exams for ongoing breast health to specialized services if diagnosed or considered at high risk for breast cancer.

Our Services

  • Counseling & guidance for high-risk patients
  • Breast exams and screenings
  • Surgical procedures
  • Cancer management
  • Follow-up care

High Risk Breast Screening Program

Women with certain health factors can be at a higher risk for breast diseases. Simply being high risk does not mean a woman will develop the disease, but it does mean she should be screened regularly.

The RCC has developed a screening program especially for women at high risk for developing breast cancer. Led by the Imaging Center for Women, fellowship-trained breast imaging specialists and nurses provide an in-depth medical and family history review, hereditary risk assessment and discuss no-cost genetic testing. Women who are considered high risk receive individualized screening recommendations, which may include MRI and genetic counseling.

Any patient who receives a mammogram at a Mary Washington imaging facility has their overall lifetime risk of breast cancer determined using the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Gail Model and individual risk factors.

Leaders in Breast-Conserving Cancer Treatment

Mary Washington Healthcare, where breast-conserving treatment methods for breast cancer have been common since 1990, exceeds national averages for success. Approximately 80% of our breast cancer patients choose breast-conserving treatment, considerably more than the 62% average recorded in the American College of Surgeons National Cancer Data Base of 1,500 cancer programs in the U.S. accredited by the Commission on Cancer.

Because our patients can make informed decisions after being furnished comprehensive information on the range on breast cancer treatments, fewer than 2% who choose a breast-conserving method experience a local recurrence of cancer. Women whose breasts remain intact tend to feel greater satisfaction with their treatment overall, and national studies have shown survival rates to be essentially the same after lumpectomy or total mastectomy. In addition, women in the MWHC Breast Care Program receive continuous follow-up to maintain their good health.

Expedient, Comprehensive Cancer Care

Our relationships with local imaging centers and the breast cancer navigator model allow us to quickly begin treatment planning for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Typically, within days, patients have consulted with the Breast Care Program Medical Director and Surgeon, Darlene K. Blanchard, and have treatment scheduled shortly thereafter. Dr. Blanchard is known for her breast conserving therapies and oncoplastic surgery — restoring breasts to their most natural appearance with only one surgery and recovery period.

If a woman does receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, we take a multidisciplinary, highly personalized team approach to eradicating cancerous and noncancerous tumors.

Through weekly cancer conferences, the region’s leaders in cancer care come together to consult on breast and other cancer cases to determine an agreed upon course of treatment that’s most suitable for the patient.

PAXMAN Scalp Cooling for Hair Loss

One of the unique services we offer to our breast cancer patients at Mary Washington Medical Oncology is PAXMAN scalp cooling, which helps prevent hair loss from chemotherapy. We understand that hair loss can be a significant concern for many women undergoing chemotherapy, and we are proud to offer this innovative technology as part of our comprehensive care plan. Mary Washington Medical Oncology also offers laser therapy for hair growth at no additional cost.

Breast Cancer Navigator

Our Breast Cancer Navigator always stands ready to provide information, guidance and support throughout a cancer journey, coordinating care to expedite physician visits, testing and treatment plans and helping to maintain peace of mind. Patients are encouraged to call on the Navigator at any point during their care at no cost for help or access to:

  • Physical therapy
  • Cancer rehabilitation
  • Genetic counseling
  • Support groups
  • Nutrition consults
  • Integrative Medicine & Complementary Therapies
  • Transportation and financial assistance
  • Spiritual and emotional support
  • Education and access to clinical trials
  • Resources for family members
  • Survivorship support

Survivorship Support

From the moment you are diagnosed you are a survivor. Every patient who is diagnosed with cancer has lifetime access to our survivorship program and benefits including:

  • Mastectomy & Bra Fitting services
  • Free Radiation Bras
  • Wig Room services
  • Support groups with frequent guest speakers

In addition to these services all RCC offerings will continue to be available to you.

Kay BlanchardMedical Director Kay Blanchard, MD, PhD, FACS

Dr. Blanchard is a highly experienced breast cancer surgeon who has treated more than 2,000 patients. She received her medical degree from Emory University in Atlanta and completed her residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the American Board of Surgery - General Surgery, and the Cancer Committee at Mary Washington Hospital. Her expert oversight of our Breast Care Program is second to none.

Dr IlićChrista Jillard Ilić, MD, FACS

Dr. Ilić is a board-certified surgeon specialized in breast and endocrine surgery. She is dedicated to the surgical care of breast diseases and conditions and is hidden scar certified. She earned her medical degree at the Temple University School of Medicine, followed by a general surgery residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. She went on to complete a fellowship in endocrine surgery at Duke University.

Dr PeltonJeffrey J. Pelton, MD, FACS

Dr. Pelton is a board-certified surgical oncologist with extensive experience working with breast cancer patients. He earned his medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Bethesda, MD. He completed his residency in General Surgery as the Chief Resident at Wilford Hall, USAF Medical Center, Lackland AFB, TX, followed by a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Pelton holds an appointment as an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine, Bethesda, MD.

Dr CogginsRachel Coggins, DO

Rachel Coggins, DO, focuses on noninterventional rehabilitation medicine for patients with cancer, strokes, brain injuries, and deconditioning in need of rehabilitation including mobility and orthotics. She treats post-mastectomy musculoskeletal conditions, lymphedema management (evaluation and management, including DME management), prehabilitation and optimization of function prior, during, and after cancer therapies, cancer-related fatigue, and cancer-related neuropathic and musculoskeletal conditions.

Tiffany SimonsTiffany G. Simons, RN, MS, C-ANP

Tiffany G Simons RN, MS, C-ANP received her BS in Nursing and MS with focus on Adult Nurse Practitioner and minor in Business Administration at the University of Portland, in Portland, OR. Her areas of interest include evaluation, diagnosis and management of benign and malignant breast disease and she has dedicated over 20 years in advanced practice to caring for women, and men, with breast cancer. She has a special interest in genetics; high-risk breast surveillance for women with a familial history of breast cancer; long-term breast cancer surveillance and survivorship. Tiffany was recently awarded the Excellence in Nursing Practice for Advanced Practice Nurses in 2021.

Natalie GerglerNatalie Gergler, PA-C

Natalie received her Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies in 2006 followed by certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Previously, Natalie worked in Connecticut at a teaching hospital for surgery, trauma and surgical intensive care before moving to Virginia in 2011. She worked in dermatology and emergency medicine once she arrival in Virginia but missed the surgical setting.

Her areas of interest include working with breast cancer patients, surgery and having the time to spend with patients and their families for preoperative care, education and support. When she is not at work you can usually find Natalie walking her dog, spending time on the water, riding her bike or traveling.

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