To request an appointment or referral, please call Apryl Bilodeau, patient navigator for the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic, at 781-487-6212.
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 with a strong family history of cancer or a genetic predisposition to cancer
Patients and referring providers can request an appointment by calling Apryl Bilodeau, patient navigator for the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic, at 781-487-6212. 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:
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:
Answers to FAQs about our Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic, by the clinic's expert team of multidisciplinary specialists.
What are Multi-Cancer Detection (MCD) tests?
MCD tests are a category of blood tests that can potentially detect or screen for multiple types of cancer in a single test.
Why are MCD 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 MCD 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 MCD 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.
The accuracy of MCD tests can vary depending on the cancer type and stage, as well as the type of MCD test used.
Who should be tested?
While we are still learning about what makes an ideal candidate for MCD 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 MCD test?
MCD 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 MCD test, although our clinic is invested in learning more along with others in the field all over the world.
Are MCD tests FDA approved?
At this time, none of the various MCD tests that are being developed are FDA cleared or approved.
Are MCD tests covered by insurance?
MCD 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 MCD 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.
Learn more about care for patients and families with hereditary cancer predisposition.
Learn how Mass General Cancer Center is focused on increasing the development of new cancer-detecting technologies, and learn about the Fire Health Study, a partnership with the Boston Fire Department to help screen firefighters for cancer.
The Story Project
The Story Project is our effort to capture the stories from the people in our Mass General Cancer Center community.
Using information from a single low-dose chest computed tomography scan, ‘Sybil’ accurately predicted individuals’ lung cancer risk for one to six years in the future, pointing a way toward personalized screening.
Request an Appointment or Referral
Patients and referring providers can request an appointment with the Cancer Early Detection and Diagnostics Clinic team by phone.