Treatment Programs

Breast Cancer Treatment

The Center for Breast Cancer provides comprehensive, compassionate care for patients with any stage of breast cancer.

 

On this page you will find information to help you:

Information about Breast Cancer

What is Breast Cancer?Learn More about this Condition

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells grow and multiply in the breast tissues. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the second-most common form of cancer in American women.

Breast cancer types include:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Paget disease of the nipple
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Phyllodes tumor

Screening, Diagnosis and Staging

Screening for cancer means testing for something abnormal before it makes you sick. The two most common ways to screen for breast cancer are a breast exam and a screening mammogram.

A diagnosis of breast cancer may be confirmed through tests and procedures including a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a biopsy (e.g. sentinel lymph node biopsy).

Following a diagnosis, further testing is done to determine the stage of breast cancer. Stages range from Stage I (early stage) to Stage IV (advanced).

Breast Cancer Treatment

Your treatment plan will depend on factors such as the type and stage of breast cancer, your general health, and your preferences. Breast cancer treatment may involve one or more of the approaches outlined below.

Surgical options include:
• Lumpectomy: a portion of the breast is removed
• Mastectomy: all tissue from one breast is removed
• Double mastectomy: all tissue from both breasts is removed

Nonsurgical options include:
• Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to shrink or destroy tumors while sparing healthy tissue
• Chemotherapy kills cancer cells through the use of intravenous or oral drugs
• Hormone therapy is sometimes effective in treating breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones
• Targeted therapy targets and interferes with the activity of specific proteins that drive tumor growth and spread

Learn more about breast cancer on our patient education page.

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Our Breast Cancer Team
Every patient treated at the Center for Breast Cancer has a multidisciplinary team of specialists that coordinates every aspect of his or her care. The Breast Cancer team is headed by Leif Ellisen, MD, PhD, Program Director, and Beverly Moy, MD, MPH, Clinical Director, and includes medical, radiation and surgical oncologists, pathologists, members of the department of imaging, researchers in cancer genetics, nutricianists, and physical therapists.Leif William Ellisen, MD, PhD

Leif William Ellisen, MD, PhD
Program Director, Breast Medical Oncology

See the Complete Team List

 

 

 

 

 

Beverley Moy, MD

Beverly Moy, MD, MPH
Clinical Director, Breast Cancer

 

 

 

 

 See the complete team treating Breast Cancer

 

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Our Approach 

Innovative Approaches
Our approach is to be as minimally invasive as possible, both in diagnosing and in treating breast cancer, and to save as much breast tissue as we safely can. Among the innovative approaches offered are:

  • Pioneering radiation techniques
    o partial breast irradiation completed in one week (instead of 6 weeks) or
    o hypofractionation to whole breast radiation in 4 weeks (instead of 6 weeks)
  • Latest surgery techniques
    o Nipple-sparing mastectomy
  • Targeted therapies
  • New therapeutic approaches for:
    o subtypes of breast cancers, such as triple negative tumors
    o advanced disease as part of a clinical trial
  • A unique Lymphedema Screening Program to help detect and treat swelling in breast cancer patients
  • Breast care management in the elderly

Multidisciplinary Patient Care

A team of breast cancer experts will develop and coordinate a treatment plan personalized for you.  They will meet often to review your progress and will communicate findings with you and your referring doctor.  This clear communication leads to seamless coordination of your care. 
 
Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Breast Cancers

A precise, accurate diagnosis is critical to appropriate treatment. Our radiologists and pathologists are skilled in detecting and evaluating breast cancers. They use sophisticated imaging and surgical procedures to determine the location, stage and type of breast cancer. For more information on breast cancer diagnosis, please see our Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center.

Standard and Novel Medical Treatments

In addition to traditional chemotherapies, patients have access to new approaches that studies are showing to be effective including:

  • Hormonal therapies (Many protocols were developed by members of the Breast Cancer Center)
  • Therapies for drug-resistant tumors that help boost sensitivity to chemotherapy
  • Acupuncture to help manage side effects

Excellence in Surgical Care

Less invasive surgery leads to faster recovery. Patients do better when they are cared for by specialists in their type of cancer and in centers that treat higher numbers of patients with the same type of cancer. Our surgeons are breast cancer specialists, treating approximately 1,000 newly diagnosed patients per year. Click here to find out more about our Surgical Oncology Treatment.

Pioneering Radiation Therapies

The goal of radiation therapy is to shrink or destroy tumors using high-energy radiation beams while sparing healthy tissue. Click here to find out more about our Radiation Therapies.

Lymphedema Screening Program

Lymphedema (swelling) can be a side effect of breast cancer. Click here to find out more about our unique Lymphedema Screening Program.

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Research and Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies of new drugs, new combinations of drugs or already approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new/different ways. They may include new drug doses or new ways (schedules) to give the drugs. Clinical trials are run under strict guidelines. Their purpose is to help find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard (current) treatment. At Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, there are several clinical trials open for the treatment of breast cancer that use the latest in cancer treatments.

Cancer is increasingly becoming a disease in which the genetic make-up of each individual cancer drives therapy. The Center for Breast Cancer also has access to clinical trials involving these targeted therapy approaches.

Click below to find listings of our current clinical and targeted therapy trials.

Find Clinical Trials for this ConditionFind Targeted Therapy Clinical Trials for this Condition

The Cancer Center also offers the Lazarex-MGH Cancer Care Equity Program, which strives to promote awareness about and access to cancer clinical trials through community outreach and education, financial assistance, and patient navigation. Click here to find out more about this program.

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Contact Us

If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our physicians, please call the Center for Breast Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center at 617-726-5130.

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Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a condition in which certain cells in the breast become abnormal and multiply without control to form a tumor.

Breast Cancer in Men

Breast cancer in men is a rare condition in which certain cells in the breast become abnormal and multiply without control to form a tumor.

Breast Cancer-related Lymphedema
Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center offers lymphedema screening for women who have been treated for breast cancer.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center is a program that offers a range of support resources around the Cancer Center. The center has an ongoing mission to make support services, as well as respite and community-building areas, more accessible to patients and families throughout the Cancer Center.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

Breast Cancer Fashion Fundraiser April 30

The Partnership Symposium: Conquering Breast Cancer

On Sunday, April 26, the 92nd Street Y in New York City brings together three of the leading breast cancer organizations, top scientists and researchers, and breast cancer survivors to provide clear and current information on the disease.

Avon Walk Boston supports research and care at Mass General

As part of the Eighth Annual Avon Walk Boston, the Avon Foundation awarded a generous research and patient care grant to Mass General's breast cancer program.

Mammograms and thyroid cancer: The facts about breast-cancer screening

Alarmist claims about a connection between thyroid cancer rates and mammography are not only without merit but also potentially harmful if they deter women from their annual screening.

New 3D Technology Improves Breast Screening Accuracy

Mammograms have been the gold standard for detecting breast cancer for more than 20 years, but a new technology promises better detection and fewer false-positive results.

Breast Tomosynthesis

Pioneered at Mass General Imaging, breast tomosynthesis provides a clear view through overlapping layers of breast tissue in order to improve breast-cancer detection while reducing callbacks.

A Mass General breast cancer patient overcomes her challenges

Blind since birth, Lil had difficulty getting to medical appointments including annual mammograms. With help from a patient navigator, she learned to overcome the many challenges she faced with a breast cancer diagnosis.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center is a program that offers a range of support resources around the Cancer Center. The center has an ongoing mission to make support services, as well as respite and community-building areas, more accessible to patients and families throughout the Cancer Center.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

Cancer Center

55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-5130

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Our approach to patient care unites cancer specialists across the hospital to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient, ensuring the best possible outcomes.

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