Breast Cancer Treatment Program

The Center for Breast Cancer provides comprehensive, compassionate care for patients with any stage of breast cancer.
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Our approach is to be as minimally invasive as possible, both in diagnosing and in treating breast cancer, and to save as much breast tissue as we safely can. Among the innovative approaches offered are:

  • Pioneering radiation techniques
  • Partial breast irradiation completed in one week (instead of 6 weeks) or hypofractionation to whole breast radiation in 4 weeks (instead of 6 weeks)
  • Latest surgery techniques: Nipple-sparing mastectomy
  • Targeted therapies
  • New therapeutic approaches for: Subtypes of breast cancers, such as triple negative tumors; advanced disease as part of a clinical trial
  • A unique Lymphedema Screening Program to help detect and treat swelling in breast cancer patients
  • Breast care management in the elderly

Multidisciplinary Patient Care

A team of breast cancer experts will develop and coordinate a treatment plan personalized for you.  They will meet often to review your progress and will communicate findings with you and your referring doctor.  This clear communication leads to seamless coordination of your care.

Center for Breast Cancer team members.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Breast Cancers

A precise, accurate diagnosis is critical to appropriate treatment. Our radiologists and pathologists are skilled in detecting and evaluating breast cancers. They use sophisticated imaging and surgical procedures to determine the location, stage and type of breast cancer. For more information on breast cancer diagnosis, please see our Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center.

Standard and Novel Medical Treatments4

In addition to traditional chemotherapies, patients have access to new approaches that studies are showing to be effective including:

  • Hormonal therapies (Many protocols were developed by members of the Breast Cancer Center)
  • Therapies for drug-resistant tumors that help boost sensitivity to chemotherapy
  • Acupuncture to help manage side effects

Excellence in Surgical Care

Less invasive surgery leads to faster recovery. Patients do better when they are cared for by specialists in their type of cancer and in centers that treat higher numbers of patients with the same type of cancer. Our surgeons are breast cancer specialists, treating approximately 1,000 newly diagnosed patients per year. Click here to find out more about our Breast Cancer Surgery Program.

Pioneering Radiation Therapies

The goal of radiation therapy is to shrink or destroy tumors using high-energy radiation beams while sparing healthy tissue. Click here to find out more about our Radiation Therapies.

Lymphedema Screening Program

Lymphedema (swelling) can be a side effect of breast cancer. Find out more about our unique Lymphedema Screening Program.

Meet the Team

Every patient treated at the Center for Breast Cancer has a multidisciplinary team of specialists that coordinates every aspect of his or her care. The Breast Cancer team is headed by Leif Ellisen, MD, PhD, Program Director, and Beverly Moy, MD, MPH, Clinical Director, and includes medical, radiation and surgical oncologists, pathologists, members of the department of imaging, researchers in cancer genetics, nutritionists, and physical therapists.

Our Breast Cancer Team

See the complete team treating Breast Cancer

Patient Education

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells grow and multiply in the breast tissues. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the second-most common form of cancer in American women.

Breast cancer types include:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Paget disease of the nipple
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Phyllodes tumor

Screening, Diagnosis and Staging

Screening for cancer means testing for something abnormal before it makes you sick. The two most common ways to screen for breast cancer are a breast exam and a screening mammogram.

A diagnosis of breast cancer may be confirmed through tests and procedures including a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a biopsy (e.g. sentinel lymph node biopsy).

Following a diagnosis, further testing is done to determine the stage of breast cancer. Stages range from Stage I (early stage) to Stage IV (advanced).

Breast Cancer Treatment

Your treatment plan will depend on factors such as the type and stage of breast cancer, your general health, and your preferences. Breast cancer treatment may involve one or more of the approaches outlined below.

Surgical options include:

  • Lumpectomy: a portion of the breast is removed
  • Mastectomy: all tissue from one breast is removed
  • Double mastectomy: all tissue from both breasts is removed

Nonsurgical options include:

  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to shrink or destroy tumors while sparing healthy tissue
  • Chemotherapy kills cancer cells through the use of intravenous or oral drugs
  • Hormone therapy is sometimes effective in treating breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones
  • Targeted therapy targets and interferes with the activity of specific proteins that drive tumor growth and spread

Learn more about Breast Cancer


This video is a short, gentle yoga practice that has been created by Mass General Cancer Center breast cancer care providers and instructed by Luba Zagachin, Mass General Cancer Center yoga instructor. The movements in the video are similar to those recommended after surgery for breast cancer, and may address some of the discomforts related to treatment. However, as is typical of any yoga practice, the linking of the movements to a steady smooth breath is the main focus. At the end of the practice, there will be a short rest, called "savasana" at which time you can sit in a chair or lie down. Make sure not to skip this part, before moving on with your day. Namaste.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies of new drugs, new combinations of drugs or already approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new/different ways. They may include new drug doses or new ways (schedules) to give the drugs. Clinical trials are run under strict guidelines. Their purpose is to help find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard (current) treatment. At Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, there are several clinical trials open for the treatment of breast cancer that use the latest in cancer treatments.

Cancer is increasingly becoming a disease in which the genetic make-up of each individual cancer drives therapy. The Center for Breast Cancer also has access to clinical trials involving these targeted therapy approaches.

Find listings of our current Breast Cancer Clinical Trials.

Find listings of our current Breast Cancer Targeted Therapy Trials.

The Cancer Center also offers the Lazarex-MGH Cancer Care Equity Program, which strives to promote awareness about and access to cancer clinical trials through community outreach and education, financial assistance, and patient navigation. Find out more about this program.


If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our physicians, please call the Center for Breast Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center at 617-726-5130.

Request an Appointment Request a Remote Second Opinion

Talk to an access nurse today 877-726-5130

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