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
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. Many 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 "chemotherapy-first" approach also can help oncologists determine how well a tumor will respond to treatment. In many cases, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be required after surgery as well to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Our oncologist also use oncotype tumor testing, which helps them determine what the likelihood is that the breast cancer will return 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 pinpoints 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. As an affiliate of one of the nation’s leading centers for breast cancer research, NSMC offers our patients access to researchers developing promising treatments for breast cancer. 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:
- Breast cancer prevention pilot trials in healthy postmenopausal women
- 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 subtypes of 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.
Risk Assessment and High-Risk Management
Our medical oncologists work closely with our breast surgeons to assess and manage the treatment of high-risk patients. 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 habits.