Breast Cancer Surgery

The Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Surgical Oncology offers state-of-the-art breast cancer surgery and provides access to the latest developments in surgical and radiation techniques

Our Surgeons are Breast Cancer SpecialistsSurgical Oncologists have undergone additional specialty training in oncology, and offer the highest degree of specialization and expertise. Surgery for breast cancer may be complex, and published data have demonstrated that hospitals and surgeons with the highest volume experience with specific operations have better outcomes. Recognizing the relationship between frequency of performing an operation and the quality of outcomes, each breast surgeon in the Division of Surgical Oncology focuses his or her clinical practice on the management of only breast diseases.
The Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Surgical Oncology offers state-of-the-art breast cancer surgery and provides access to the latest developments in surgical and radiation techniques.

The majority of our patients undergo lumpectomy and minimally invasive sentinel node biopsy and are able to return to full activity within a week. Our surgeons have been pioneers in the technique of sentinel node biopsy which reduces discomfort and side effects. Ongoing studies are utilizing radiation rather than full axillary dissection for women with cancer in the axillary nodes to reduce the risk of lymphedema and chronic shoulder and arm problems after breast cancer surgery. Selected patients with small, favorable tumors are offered the option of a partial breast irradiation or partial breast irradiation with proton beam which is a four day course of radiation treatments rather than the standard 6-7 week treatment. For patients who require mastectomy, skin-sparing mastectomies are performed with immediate reconstruction by experienced plastic surgeons who perform large numbers of reconstruction procedures each year.

Our Commitment to Multidisciplinary Care Our breast surgeons work closely with breast radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, plastic/reconstructive surgeons, and pathologists to develop treatment plans tailored to the individual patient and her disease. 

Women with newly diagnosed breast cancer are evaluated in Gillette Center for Breast Cancer's multidisciplinary sessions, where they can meet with a surgeon, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist, have their mammograms and pathology slides reviewed, and receive definitive treatment recommendations in a single visit. This team also collaborates closely with the genetic counselors in the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment. Genetic counseling is offered to assess hereditary risk in young patients and patients with strong family histories of breast cancer. A wide variety of educational and support services are also available for women and their families as they go through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.