Treatment Programs

Breast Cancer Evaluation

We are leaders in the screening and diagnosis of breast cancer, offering the most advanced breast imaging, surgical screening and pathology services available.

The Cancer Center’s Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center focuses exclusively on breast health and breast cancer detection. This program offers comprehensive, expert evaluation for:

  • Breast lumps
  • Abnormal mammograms
  • Nipple discharge
  • Other breast problems
  • Male breast cancer
  • Women at risk of breast cancer

Innovative ApproachesBecause of our exclusive focus on breast health, we offer an expertise available at only a few other centers nationwide. Our entire team, including pathologists, radiologists, surgeons and nurses, specializes exclusively in diagnosing and treating breast disorders, particularly breast cancer, with the latest, most accurate and least invasive techniques available.

The Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center offers patients:

  • The most advanced imaging technologies, such as digital mammography, digital tomosynthesis, and breast MRI
  • Minimally-invasive surgical diagnostics, like fine needle aspiration, that extract the smallest amount of tissue necessary to make an accurate diagnosis
  • Computerized breast cancer risk assessment in collaboration with the certified genetic counselors at the Cancer Center's Center for Cancer Risk Assessment,

 

Multidisciplinary Patient Care Each patient evaluated and treated here for breast concerns benefits from the hospital's wide network of specialists and treatment options. Individuals needing breast cancer treatment are cared for by a multi-disciplinary team of oncology experts at our Center for Breast Cancer. The radiologists and pathologists who diagnose and stage breast cancer are an integral part of this care team. Our team also includes experts from nursing, social work, medical genetics and physical therapy who may participate in care management decisions.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging CancersStaging is the process of determining the extent or location of any cancer. Quick and accurate diagnosis and staging of cancer are key to defining an appropriate treatment plan. Each patient seen at the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center receives a customized plan that incorporates diagnostic approaches most appropriate for their condition. This plan is developed and delivered by a team of experts who focus only on diagnosing and staging breast cancers, and who are skilled at evaluating the important features, such as molecular differences, of each patient’s tumor.

Many of our specialists are consulted from around the country and the world for their breast cancer pathology expertise. We use a full range of sophisticated imaging and surgical techniques to determine the location, stage and type of breast cancer. Among these procedures are:

  • Digital mammography, a mammogram that uses x-ray detectors and computer assistance to create the image
  • Computer aided detection (CAD), a technique in mammographic exams that identifies regions requiring further analysis
  • Ultrasound, a noninvasive procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to image an internal body structure
  • Breast MRI, which uses a powerful magnetic field and computer assistance to produce detailed pictures of the breast and regional lymph nodes
  • Digital tomosynthesis, which produces a 3-D image of the breast tissue
  • Blood tests, chest X-rays, CT scans of the bones, abdomen or brain, PET imaging and MRIs of other parts of the body all may be used as part of the detection and diagnostic process

Excellence in Surgical Diagnostics Your diagnostic plan may include a surgical procedure to determine if a lump seen in an image is cancerous, and if so, how far the cancer has advanced. Among the procedures we use are:

  • Fine needle aspiration/biopsy, which involves a very thin needle inserted into the breast to withdraw a small amount of tissue for laboratory examination
  • Stereotactic and ultrasound guided biopsies, in which surgeons use imaging technology to guide them during the biopsy
  • Core biopsy, similar to fine needle biopsy, uses a slightly larger needle and is usually done under local anesthesia
  • Needle-localized breast biopsies, in which the surgeon uses a tiny wire to remove a small amount of tissue from the breast area that looks abnormal on an x-ray
  • Excisional biopsy, which removes the abnormal tissue and a margin of healthy tissue for examination by a pathologist
  • Sentinel node biopsy, a technique to identify, remove and examine the single lymph node most likely to indicate whether cancer has spread beyond the breast
  • Computerized risk assessment to determine risk of developing breast cancer

Learn more about our Breast Surgery Program. 

Care through Clinical Trials Many of the specialists and sub-specialists in our program are involved in research to improve the diagnosis and treatments for breast cancer. These studies include:

  • Investigations to identify more ways to use MRI for women with prior breast cancer
  • 3-D imaging of breast tissue using tomosynthesis
  • Research to better understand the molecular features of individual breast cancers
  • Identifying through genetic signatures which breast cancers will respond to hormone therapy
  • Gene-expression profiling to identify which women are at higher risk of recurrence and therefore may benefit from more aggressive treatment
  • Targeted therapies for tumors with genetic mutations identified through genotyping

Detecting Cancer Earlier through Research Breast cancer detection research is focused on identifying and characterizing novel genes that are central to both normal development and cancer; this effort is designed to uncover new ways to determine risk and treatment of breast cancer. Women at high risk are followed closely with the latest imaging technology and offered risk reducing medications or surgical procedures as appropriate. In addition, our experts are engaged in ongoing research to refine and improve diagnostic techniques and to better determine the impact of treatment earlier.

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.

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.

Digital 3-D mammograms show promise

Device companies race to improve breast cancer screening, but the effectiveness of new methods is still being studied.

Breast Tomosynthesis

Pioneered at Mass General Imaging, breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) 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

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Request an appointment at the Cancer Center

Contact the Cancer Center to schedule an appointment with one of our cancer specialists

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Learn more about breast imaging services at Mass General and where to get a screening mammogram.

Discover the Cancer Center patient experience

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.