The multidisciplinary breast cancer clinic at the Mass General/North Shore Cancer Center provides patients with access to specialists with a wide range of expertise, including medical oncology, radiation oncology, and breast surgery -- all working together to ensure that the highest quality care is provided in a timely and coordinated fashion. Our experts are happy to provide you with a second opinion as you evaluate your treatment options.
Treatment is offered for the following conditions:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
- Invasive breast cancer
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Recurrent or metastatic breast cancer
- Male breast cancer
Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Clinic
The multidisciplinary breast cancer clinic at the Mass General/North Shore Cancer Center provides access to multiple breast cancer specialists focused on creating a treatment plan tailored to the needs of each patient. We work closely to help patients transition from diagnosis to treatment. Patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer are seen in the multidisciplinary clinic by a breast surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist. After evaluation by the physicians, the patient’s case is comprehensively reviewed with pathologists, breast radiologists, and oncology nurses, and a thorough treatment plan is provided to the patient.
Our approach is to be as comprehensive as possible, both in diagnosis and treatment. We offer the following innovative approaches:
- Lymphatic mapping and sentinel node biopsy, which can determine if cancer has spread
- Nipple-sparing mastectomy techniques
- Partial mastectomy/lumpectomy
- Oncoplastic surgery
- Breast reconstruction (implant-based or tissue-transfer)
- Anti-estrogen hormonal therapy
- Chemotherapy, either before or after surgery
- Supportive care therapies (such as infusions to stabilize bones) to eliminate or reduce symptoms that can interfere with quality of life
- Advanced radiation techniques that minimize exposure of the heart to radiation and use of image-guided technologies to pinpoint the treatment area
- Partial-breast irradiation (PBI)
- Clinical trials of promising new therapies , some of which are determined by tumore and genotyping
- Genetic testing and counseling
- Risk assessment program
Working with breast surgeons, pathologists and others to determine the best course of treatment, our medical oncologists use the latest chemotherapy regimens and anti-estrogen therapies. Some women have the option of starting with the systemic chemotherapy treatment (neoadjuvant therapy) first, before surgery is performed. By shrinking a tumor in advance through chemotherapy, some patients can avoid extensive breast surgery to remove a tumor. The neoadjuvant approach also can help oncologists determine how well a tumor is responding to treatment. In some cases, chemotherapy may be required after surgery, and radiation therapy is always required after a lumpectomy to destroy any possible remaining cancer cells. Our oncologists also may use oncotype tumor testing, which helps them determine the likelihood of the breast cancer recurring and whether a patient is likely to benefit from commonly used chemotherapy regimens.
Our radiation oncologists offer patients the latest treatment regimens and innovative techniques such as partial breast and prone breast radiation therapy, which targets the cancer while sparing radiation exposure to the heart, lungs and other surrounding organs and tissue. State-of-the-art linear accelerators provide radiation therapy, including intensity modulated radiation therapy, to provide the most exact treatment.
Our oncologists actively participate in national clinical trials of new treatments and therapies with the goal of advancing science and patient care. Massachusetts General Hospital offers one of New England’s largest clinical trial programs with many opportunities for eligible patients at any stage of disease to participate.
Current studies include:
- Ways to minimize arm lymphedema (swelling due to post-surgical fluid retention)
- The use of targeted therapeutics, including agents that target specific enzymes to treat metestatic breast cancer
- Genetic studies to determine which breast cancers are more likely to recur
- Drugs to reduce recurrence and enroll willing patients in appropriate national clinical trials of new treatments and therapies with the goal of advancing science and patient care.
Patients are encouraged to speak with their oncologists about enrolling in clinical trials that may be appropriate for them.
Genetic testing and counseling
Some patients have an increased risk of developing breast cancer based on their personal and/or family history. We have a team of certified genetic counselors available to meet with patients to discuss genetic testing and gather the information they need to make informed healthcare decisions.
Our breast surgeons work closely with our medical oncologists to assess and manage the treatment of high-risk patients. Increased risk for breast cancer may be based on family history, personal history of breast or other cancers, or atypical cells found on breast biopsy. These patients may be advised to have earlier, more frequent and advanced diagnostic testing, participate in genetic testing and counseling, be prescribed breast cancer prevention medications, or counseled to change lifestyle factors.