Breast Cancer Treatment

Debra Harris, R.N., enjoys talking with patients.
Debra Harris, RN, (right) is a nurse navigator for patients with breast cancer.

At OHSU’s breast cancer clinic, our nurse navigators guide you through treatment so you can focus on getting better. Our expert doctors and nurses also understand that every breast cancer patient is different. We tailor treatments to your specific needs and wishes.

Our compassionate, state-of-the-art care includes:

Complete care

Having a full team of expert providers is especially important for a disease as complex as breast cancer. Many patients need care from several doctors, such as surgery from a surgical oncologist, radiation from a radiation oncologist and chemotherapy from a medical oncologist. Our approach provides seamless care with an emphasis on your preferences.

Nurse navigators

Two nurses guide patients through OHSU breast health services. You’ll find a nurse navigator at the OHSU Breast Center, who will guide you through expert screening and other services. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you’ll transition to the nurse navigator at the breast cancer clinic. 

The cancer clinic nurse navigator will:

  • Answer your questions.
  • Explain your diagnosis.
  • Arrange your appointments.
  • Explain your pathology report, receptor status and surgery report.
  • Discuss your treatment options and other details.
  • Make sure you learn about any clinical trial that could help you.

Doctors work as a team

Dr. Jennifer Tonneson
Expert breast cancer surgeon Jennifer Tonneson, M.D., is part of our team of care providers.

Our doctors work closely together. On clinic days, they confer face to face at a morning conference and throughout the day.

Our surgical oncologists and plastic surgeons also work as partners, often combining cancer and reconstruction procedures into one surgery.

Genomic analysis

We offer access to genomic testing services for appropriate patients to help guide treatment decisions. For certain early-stage tumors, for example, genetic activity can indicate whether a patient needs chemotherapy or can safely avoid it. 

Complementary medicine

We'll care for you as a whole person, not just a cancer patient. Our services include acupuncturenaturopathic caretraditional Chinese medicine and dietitians with cancer expertise.


All your care can be arranged at our South Waterfront campus. For your convenience, we also offer some services at community clinics. Our nurse navigator will coordinate all your appointments.

First steps

We strive to make your care as stress-free as possible. We welcome patients to our clinic, and we’re happy to provide a second opinion. Here are the first steps after you call or are referred to our clinic.

One of our nurse navigators will talk with you on the phone to go over your condition and next steps. If you've just been diagnosed, they’ll explain your pathology report and determine whether you need more imaging or genetic testing. They’ll coordinate your appointments with our team.

Before your appointment, our breast cancer team holds a meeting to discuss your case. This meeting is known as a tumor board. The tumor board includes two dozen experts on breast cancer. They come from a range of fields, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, genetics and cell biology.

These experts look at your scans and pathology results together and discuss the best course of treatment for you. They may also suggest that you take part in a clinical trial if they think it would help you. They will help you chart a clear path forward.

At your appointment, you’ll meet with the specialists you may need. Patients usually have one exam room, and doctors come to them. 


At the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, we know that every patient is unique. We tailor your treatment to fit your needs. Some patients might get chemotherapy before surgery, while others might get surgery first. We’ll make a plan that offers you the best possible outcome.

Our expert surgeons perform lumpectomy, mastectomy and lymph node surgery. We also offer oncoplastic lumpectomy, which combines cancer removal with reconstruction surgery. When possible, we also offer nipple- and skin-sparing mastectomies for natural-looking reconstructions. Read more about breast cancer surgery and breast reconstruction at the Knight Cancer Institute.

We provide the latest therapies in medical oncology, including chemotherapy when needed and hormone therapies that harness cancer receptors to shrink tumors.

We also offer access to genomic testing — analysis to reveal the cancer's traits at the molecular level — to guide treatment decisions for appropriate patients.

As part of the Knight Cancer Institute, we are also on the leading edge of providing targeted therapies. These treatments attack cancer cells while mostly sparing healthy cells.

We offer the latest technology. We follow protocols to limit radiation to the heart, lessening the risk of side effects. For some patients, we can also offer partial breast radiation therapy or a shorter course of radiation therapy.

We offer every option, including sophisticated reconstruction techniques using a patient's own tissue for strikingly natural-looking results. Reconstruction can often be combined with breast reduction or augmentation. 

As Oregon's only academic health center, OHSU offers access to breast cancer clinical trials. Trials can benefit participating patients as well as expand scientific understanding to improve future treatments. Learn more about clinical trials at the Knight Cancer Institute.

For patients

Call 503-494-4673 to:

  • Make an appointment
  • Seek a second opinion
  • Ask questions


OHSU Breast Center, South Waterfront

Center for Health & Healing, Building 2, ninth floor
3485 S. Bond Ave.
Portland, OR 97239

Free parking for patients and visitors

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