Explore the Breast Program

Overview

Each year, our talented Radiation Oncology team treats thousands of women and men with every type of breast cancer. Our program provides comprehensive expertise in the clinical care of early, locally advanced, and recurrent breast cancer.

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.

Mass General Breakthroughs in Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer:

  • 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 programAfter 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 Center for Breast Cancer at the Mass General Cancer Center, 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.

Clinical Trials

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

 



Patient Resources

Radiation Therapy Guide

Radiation Therapy Guide

This pdf describes what you can expect before and during your radiation treatments.

Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy

Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy

This pdf describes what you need to know about breast cancer radiation therapy.

What to Expect

What to Expect

Learn about the radiation treatment process, and what to expect during each visit.

Virtual Guides

Virtual Guides

Browse our online guides to visualize steps throughout the radiation oncology process.

FAQs

FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about radiation treatment.

Patient Education

Patient Education

Find various radiation oncology patient education resources to help answer your questions.