Breast Program

The Breast Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital is staffed by leading radiation-therapy experts who provide compassionate, state-of-the-art care to patients with breast cancer.


Each year, our radiation oncologists treat thousands of women and men with every type of breast cancer, including recurring forms of the disease.

Breaking New Ground in Breast Cancer Treatment

Founded nearly 40 years ago, our program is one of the first—and most innovative—breast radiation oncology programs in the United States. We work closely with the Mass General Cancer Center, to develop and investigate advanced therapies and technologies used around the world to make treatment more effective and improve the quality of patients' lives.

Our breakthroughs in radiation therapy for breast cancer include:

  • Partial breast irradiation (PBI): For selected patients with early-stage cancer, we use this noninvasive technique to deliver radiation precisely to the area from which the tumor was removed. As a result, we can reduce treatment length from months to a week, twice a day. We also designed a trial to deliver PBI once a day for 2 weeks. PBI can potentially reduce side effects by targeting only the tumor area.
  • Heart and lung protection: To eliminate or decrease the heart's exposure to radiation, we use an advanced method that combines exceptional precision with a breath-holding technique for patients with cancer of the left breast and certain cardiac characteristics. We also offer prone breast treatment, which reduces the amount of lung exposed to radiation and may reduce the heart's exposure.
  • Lymphedema program: After some treatments, such as axillary lymph node dissection and/or axillary radiation, a patient's arm may swell, causing cellulitis. Difficult to treat when advanced, lymphedema also can lead to loss of function of the arm and be disfiguring, profoundly affecting emotional and psychological well-being. We initiated a unique screening program to detect very early signs and designed a trial for early intervention. This program includes laser-perometer measurements before and after treatment and twice annually during follow up, as well as access to physical therapists who specialize in lymphedema. We also initiated a clinical trial to test early intervention.
  • Proton beam therapy: We started a clinical trial for selected patients to determine the effectiveness of administering radiation to the chest wall and lymph nodes with proton therapy. This approach may eliminate the heart's exposure to radiation and minimizes dose to healthy tissues outside of the radiation target.

Personalized & Comprehensive Care

In the highly specialized Gillette Center for Breast Cancer, our radiation oncologists work side-by-side with your entire cancer treatment team. These world-class breast cancer specialists may include medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, physical therapists, social workers and genetic counselors. Our cross-specialty approach enables us to provide comprehensive care tailored to your needs.

Meet the Team

Dedicated & Accomplished Specialists

Every step of your treatment is managed by an experienced radiation oncologist who has dedicated his or her career to studying and treating breast cancer.

Our staff includes leading practitioners in the field of breast radiation oncology:

  • Alphonse Taghian, MD, PhD, program chief and Professor at Harvard Medical School. He has treated thousands of patients with breast cancer over the last 20 years. Dr. Taghian is a leader in partial breast irradiation with 3D conformal techniques, founded the first and unique lymphedema screening program and consults with physicians nationwide on complicated cases.
  • Rachel Jimenez, MD, received her AB in cognitive neuroscience and her medical degree from Harvard University.  She completed her residency training in the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program and was named Co-Chief in her final year of the program.
  • Shannon MacDonald, MD, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. She specializes in breast cancer and is conducting a leading-edge investigation using proton therapy for patients that require radiation following mastectomy.

Patient Education

We encourage you to ask us about any step in the treatment process. 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.


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
  • Handicapped 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

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