Explore the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic

What is the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic?

The Mass General Cancer Center established the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic as a multidisciplinary collaboration to bridge the gap between clinical care and research in cancer early detection. Most cancers are detected after people experience symptoms that cause them to seek medical evaluation. This often means that cancers are diagnosed when they are locally invasive or already metastatic, and no longer curable with surgery or radiation treatment. Detecting cancer at earlier stages when treatment is likely to work best gives patients the highest chance of survival.

By streamlining the care journey for patients, expediting access to a comprehensive network of experts, and developing new screening technologies, the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic seeks to improve early cancer detection and treatment, leading to increased cures for patients around the world.

When to Contact Us

Typically, the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic will see patients who fall into the following categories:

  • People with a mass or other abnormal finding on a radiology or physical exam concerning for cancer
  • People who are interested in undergoing MCED (Multi-Cancer Early Detection) tests or who have already received positive MCED test results
  • People with a strong family history of cancer or a genetic predisposition to cancer

Patients and referring providers can request an appointment by calling 781-487-6100. Both in-person and virtual appointments are available.

What to Expect from a Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic Visit

The first visit at the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic will consist of a comprehensive consultation with either a physician Medical Oncologist or an Advanced Practice Provider (APP). The provider will review the patient’s medical history and family history of cancer based on the referral reason to assess the patient’s risk of developing cancer, and then recommend one or more screening exams or further testing as needed. Further testing may include:

Screening for Individuals with Hereditary Cancer Predisposition

For patients and families with hereditary cancer predisposition, our Center for Cancer Risk Assessment provides comprehensive care, including screening prevention options, genetic testing, and education. Our programs within the center include:

It’s important to ask family members for health history so that you can make informed decisions about screening and preventive options. Our team of genetic counselors will help you review patterns in the family history and determine how the information may affect your health risks and medical decisions.

What to Expect After a Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Visit

Depending on a patient’s consultation and test results, the clinic may refer them to an expert in our broad network of programs and specialties for further care and risk reduction. These include but are not limited to:

Improving Cancer Outcomes

As part of an academic medical center, Mass General Cancer Center invests in research and clinical trials to develop innovative approaches to cancer prevention and treatment and improve patient outcomes. Our collaborations with institutions like the Jameel Clinic at MIT, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, and Zhu Family Center for Global Cancer Prevention allow us to be at the forefront of emerging early detection technologies.

Early Detection Clinical Trials:
  • DNA Evaluation of Fragments for Early Interception - Lung Cancer Training Study (DELFI-L101 Study) (DELFI-L101) [NCT04825834]
  • CASCADE-LUNG: Cancer Screening Assay Using DELFI; A Clinical Validation Study in Lung (DELFI-L201) [NCT05306288]
  • Lung Cancer Risk and Early Detection in Firefighters [NCT04614129]
Our Publications:

FAQs

Answers to FAQs about our Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic, by the clinic's expert team of multidisciplinary specialists.

What are Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) tests?

MCED tests are a category of blood tests that can potentially detect or screen for multiple types of cancer in a single test.

Why are MCED tests being developed?

While we have effective screening tests for four cancers currently: colon, lung, breast and cervix, not everyone who should be screened is receiving screening. Importantly, there are many other types of cancer that have no current effective screening test. The MCED concept is exciting because of the potential to screen for multiple cancers with a single blood test. They are being developed now because technology platforms necessary to detect small fragments of DNA circulating in the blood has advanced to the point where even a very small dilute signal in the blood can be detected.

How does an MCED test work?

A blood sample is taken and tested for certain pieces of DNA or proteins from cancer cells. If these are found, it might mean that the person has cancer, and it might also show which organ the cancer started in.

What cancers does MCED test for?

MCED tests can potentially screen for any type of cancer.

How accurate are MCED tests?

The accuracy of MCED tests can vary depending on the cancer type and stage, as well as the type of MCED test used.

Who should be tested?

While we are still learning about what makes an ideal candidate for MCED testing, right now these tests are primarily being studied in people over the age of 50. They are also being studied in patients without a history of cancer. If you have personally had a history of cancer and are a cancer survivor, this test is likely not recommended for you at this time.

How does someone get an MCED test?

MCED tests are ordered by a provider. They are available either through participating in a research study or by paying out of pocket. Contact the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic to learn more.

How often should someone be tested?

It is not yet known how often a person should take an MCED test, although our clinic is invested in learning more along with others in the field all over the world.

Are MCED tests FDA approved?

At this time, none of the various MCED tests that are being developed are FDA cleared or approved.

Are MCED tests covered by insurance?

MCED tests are not currently covered by insurance.

What if I receive a positive test result?

If a patient receives a positive test result, the next steps will depend on the exact results of the test. Some MCED tests can even go so far as to show that a positive cancer signal was detected and then indicate the top two types of cancer that are most likely. Our team of experts will recommend additional testing as appropriate.

How do I make an appointment for MCED testing?

The Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic is led by Lecia Sequist, MD, MPH and Douglas Micalizzi, MD, PhD. Patients and referring providers can request an appointment by calling 781-487-6100.

Meet the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic’s Multidisciplinary Team

Our team of specialists include:

Lecia Sequist, Md, MPH

Lecia Sequist, MD, MPH
Program Director

 

 

Douglas Micalizzi, MD, PhD

Douglas Micalizzi, MD, PhD
Clinical Director

 

 

Tara Soumerai, MD

Tara Soumerai, MD
Medical Oncologist

 

 

Erica Warner, ScD, MPH

Erica Warner, ScD, MPH
Director of Epidemiology

 

 

Other team members include:

  • Medical, Surgical and Radiation Oncologists
  • Advanced Practice Providers (APPs)
  • Primary Care Physicians
  • Other Medical and Surgical Specialists
  • Nurses
  • Patient Navigators
  • Genetic Counselors
  • Cancer Epidemiologists
  • Research Support Team

Additional Resources

Fire Health Study

Fire Health Study

This partnership aims to increase lung cancer early detection access among firefighters.

MCED Consortium

MCED Consortium

Lecia Sequist, MD, MPH continues the mission through participation in the MCED Consortium.

Cancer Genetics

Cancer Genetics

Learn more about care for patients and families with hereditary cancer predisposition.


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