Genitourinary Program

Specialists in the Genitourinary Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology are renowned for their expertise in using advanced radiation therapies to treat cancers of the urinary tract (males and females) and the reproductive tract (males).

Overview

Our team includes some of the most experienced radiation oncologists treating genitourinary (GU) cancers in the United States. Each year we manage radiation therapy for many hundreds of patients with cancers and tumors of the prostate, bladder, kidneys, testes, penis, ureters, and urethra. Our specialists are involved in all aspects of GU cancer care including new targeted biologic therapies combined with radiation as well as quality of life research.

Our unique expertise lies in the areas of active surveillance for prostate cancer, proton beam therapy, and the management of bladder cancer using chemotherapy and radiation. In addition our investigators lead major national and international trials to determine the most effective use of these and other novel approaches.

Clinical Services and Special Programs

The Genitourinary Program uses the latest state-of-the-art and innovative technologies including:

  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): Highly targeted conformal techniques are employed for all patients regardless of their disease or its location.
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT): Daily cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is the cornerstone of our image-guidance practice. The majority of patients have fiducial markers inserted that aid in daily alignment, matching the daily CBCT with the planning CT.
  • Rectal Spacer: A rectal gel spacer is offered as well, which pushes the rectum away from the prostate, out of the high dose radiation field, helping to minimize side-effects from radiation treatment.
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and Hypofractionation: These approaches are used to deliver a greater dose of radiation over a course of fewer treatments. Mass General now offers prostate treatment delivered in 4-5 weeks as compared to the 8-9 weeks given for traditional prostate radiotherapy. Five-fraction treatment, over just one week, has also been explored. Short courses of high dose radiation may now be safely given to sites of metastatic disease (when appropriate).
  • Low dose-rate brachytherapy: Brachytherapy is a quick option for treatment in some patients. Radioactive seed implants are placed permanently in the organ (e.g. prostate) and deliver a high dose of radiation. This can be used as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with external beam radiation.
  • Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT): Mass General has a dedicated operating room that contains a radiation treatment machine. Patients with locally advanced or locally recurrent renal cell, adrenal, or bladder cancer can be treated with electron beam radiation. IORT enables patients to have their tumors irradiated directly, with the surgeon pushing their sensitive normal tissues out of the path of the radiation beam using tools called retractors. This allows very high radiation doses to be safely given without fear of damage to the bowel, stomach, or liver.
  • Proton beam therapy: This very precise radiation treatment has been investigated at Mass General for treatment of prostate cancer since the 1970’s. Mass General continues to lead the investigation of proton therapy (when compared to more conventional radiation therapy) in the management of this disease. This is an available option for prostate cancer patients.
  • Bladder Preservation Therapy: Bladder-preserving combined-modality therapy (CMT) with chemoradiation is an appropriate treatment strategy for selected patients with muscle-invasive urothelial bladder cancer who are not surgical candidates due to other serious medical issues and for those who desire to retain their native bladder.

Multidisciplinary Treatment Approach

The genitourinary division is well integrated with their counterparts in urology and medical oncology, having shared protocols for three decades and multidisciplinary clinics for nearly two decades. The Claire and John Bertucci Center for Genitourinary (GU) Cancers at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center is one of the largest and most experienced centers in New England for the treatment of genitourinary cancers. Many of the advanced diagnostic and therapeutic approaches available here are offered at only a few other centers nationwide.

Meet the Team

Every step of your radiation therapy is managed by an experienced radiation oncologist who has devoted his or her clinical practice, research and postdoctoral training to treating patients with GU cancers.

Our physician staff includes:

  • Anthony Zietman, MD, program chief. His undergraduate training was completed at Oxford University in the UK and he then went to medical school at the Middlesex Hospital, London University graduating in 1983. After residencies in internal medicine and clinical oncology, he moved to the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, USA for a fellowship in radiation biology. Since joining the staff he has authored over 200 original articles and reviews on many aspects of GU cancer. His particular research interests are in the specific roles of active surveillance, brachytherapy, hormone therapy, and proton beam therapy in the management of prostate cancer. He also has a long-standing interest in the organ-sparing treatment of bladder cancer. He is currently Shipley Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School and has recently finished his term as President and Chair of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). He is a Trustee of the American Board of Radiology and, since 2011, been editor of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics.
  • Jason Efstathiou, MD, PhD, holds a BS degree from Yale University, MD from Harvard Medical School (HMS), doctoral degree from the University of Oxford (UK), and completed his residency training in the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program. He serves as Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at HMS and MGH. His commitment to service/patient care has been recognized as honoree for the 2012 MGH Cancer Center’s “The One Hundred”, and as nominee for the 2013 Brian A. McGovern Award for Clinical Excellence. His research has informed clinical practice guidelines and focuses on technology assessment and comparative effectiveness of advanced/emerging therapies for prostate cancer including proton beam, as well as hormonal therapy and bladder-sparing chemoradiation. He holds national leadership positions in radiation oncology including within the cooperative groups, professional societies and National Cancer Institute. Other projects of his include the development of web-based patient decision aids/support tools, evaluating the multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, and global oncology outreach efforts.
  • Christine Olsen, MD

Patient Education

We encourage you to ask us about any step in the treatment process, from understanding the safety of your therapy to managing side effects. The answers to many frequently asked questions also appear in Your Guide to Radiation Therapy (PDF).

Clinical Trials

Massachusetts General Hospital invites patients and the community to participate in innovative clinical trials and research studies.

Search open clinical trials.

Proton Therapy vs. IMRT for Low or Intermediate Risk Prostate Cancer (PARTIQoL) clinical trial.

Contact

Contact Us

Clark Center for Radiation Oncology

Vida E & Arthur L. Goldstein Lunder Building

55 Fruit StreetLunder Building LL3 Boston, MA 02114
  • Near Public Transit
  • Accessible
  • Phone: 617-726- 8651
  • Fax: 857-238-6377
  • Email Us

Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center
30 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-726-0923 (Proton Inquiry Line: 617-724-1680)
Fax: 617-726-6498
Email: InformationRadOnc@partners.org

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