Treatment Programs

Psychiatric Oncology

The Center for Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Sciences brings together experts in psychiatry and psychology to help patients and cope with the psychological and behavioral impact of cancer.

Caring for the Whole PatientPatients with cancer often deal with severe side effects and psychological distress during cancer treatment. Coping successfully can have a substantial impact on their quality of life and on the quality of life of those around them. This program, a collaborative effort of the Department of Psychiatry and the Cancer Center, is designed to provide easily accessible, state-of-the-art treatment for the psychological distress often experienced during cancer treatment.

The Center for Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Science is committed to a cancer care model that is unparalleled in its ability to treat the “whole patient” to foster the best patient and family experience and the best clinical outcomes.

Our research program, supported by the National Cancer Institute, has seven main areas of focus:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Survivorship
  • Access to care
  • Disparities
  • Aging
  • Health behaviors

Innovative Approaches We are at the forefront of this growing field, offering the following advantages to our patients and their families:

  • A Department of Psychiatry that is consistently ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report
  • Unparalleled access in New England to specialized psychiatric expertise in cancer and its treatments
  • Ability to distinguish between and appropriately treat mood and behavior changes related to emotional coping versus those related to physiological issues such as nutrition, metastasis, or chemotherapy- or radiotherapy-induced changes
  • An individualized approach that recognizes the differences in adjustment to diagnosis, disease-related physical changes and side effects depending on age, gender, personality, background and beliefs
  • Compassion and expertise in dealing with the feeling of loss brought about by cancer

Multidisciplinary Patient Care Every patient is cared for by a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists, including experts in psychiatric oncology. Patients and the family members involved in their care are viewed as an important part of this team, as is the referring physician. Working together, we form a personalized treatment plan that addresses your needs and wishes and gives you the best possible chance of success.

Our contribution to this plan and to your treatment is to focus on your mood, your anxiety and your ability to think clearly while receiving treatment. This may include adjusting medications, clarifying medical and psychological aspects of your disease and treatment and suggesting treatments.

Advanced Medical Care Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation All of our psychiatrists have had advanced sub-specialty training in the psychiatric care of medically-ill patients. We are able to offer comprehensive evaluations that include both medical and psychological causes of distress in individuals with cancer.
Expertise in Psychiatric Medications and Cancer Treatments We are sensitive and knowledgeable about the use of psychiatric medications during cancer treatments in order to avoid drug interactions and worsening of side effects.
Counseling/Psychotherapy Referrals As part of an individualized treatment plan, we often include a referral for counseling or psychotherapy. We work closely with Oncology Social Work and the Behavioral Medicine Service to ensure that patients are referred to the therapy that will be best for them.

Improving Care through Clinical Trials Many of the specialists in this program are involved in clinical research to improve the quality of life for patients and their families during cancer treatment. Research areas include: Depression Studies on the relationship between cancer and cancer treatments with depression have helped clarify that certain cancer treatments cause fatigue rather than depression, and are starting to show connections between depression and mortality in cancer patients. Further investigation is aimed at the effects of treating depression on survival and on how oncologists recognize and treat depression in their clinical practices. A study currently underway investigates major depression in patients with advanced lung cancer.
Anxiety Studies help to show how anxiety can affect patients' ability to complete cancer treatments and novel ways to treat anxiety with behavioral interventions. A study currently enrolling participants investigates behavioral intervention for anxiety in advanced lung cancer patients.
Health Behaviors These studies explore health behaviors, particularly smoking, among cancer patients and survivors, and of the quality of health insurance coverage for these survivors. Prevention studies include investigating National Lung Cancer Screening Trials participants’ risk perceptions for cancer. A recently completed pilot study demonstrated the feasibility and potential efficacy of a behavioral and pharmacological intervention for smoking cessation in lung cancer patients. Our work also examines the efficacy and potential cost effectiveness of integrating brief mind-body interventions into cancer clinical care.

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 Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

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

Psychology Assessment Center marks 15 years

The MGH Psychology Assessment Center (PAC), part of the Department of Psychiatry, celebrates 15 years this month.

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 Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

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

Award-winning medical care

Massachusetts General Hospital is recognized as a leader in patient care, education and research, ranking among the most prestigious medical institutions.