Boston Medical Center’s Breast Cancer Program team is here for you from diagnosis through the end of your treatment. Our comprehensive care is not just built around your breast cancer but is built for you and your life. Our team-based approach provides rapid access, personalized care, streamlined patient visits, and care navigation, all to help make sure your cancer journey is as smooth as possible.
Our multidisciplinary program brings together internal medicine, surgical oncology, radiology/mammography, medical oncology, radiation oncology, pathology, breast cancer nurse navigators and other breast cancer specialists together as one connected team.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis
When you come to BMC for a diagnosis, we’ll do what it takes to make sure you get the best, most accurate diagnosis possible – as quickly as possible. Throughout it all, our team of navigators will help you understand what to expect at each appointment.
At that first appointment, you’ll see our experts for a physical exam and a mammogram, even if you had one before. You might also have an ultrasound of your breast, for a more detailed picture.
If you need a biopsy, our goal is to get it done at that same appointment. If it can’t be done on the same day, we’ll bring you back within two days, so we don’t slow down your diagnosis. If you have a biopsy, you’ll leave with a follow-up appointment to get the results within one week. We know it can be hard to wait for a diagnosis, but getting the diagnosis right is one of the most important steps in your care journey.
If your tests show that you have cancer, you’ll meet with the medical oncologist and breast surgeon at your appointment.
An essential part of the Breast Cancer Program is a weekly multidisciplinary breast cancer conference in which the entire team collaborates on a comprehensive evaluation, and plans the best, most individualized treatment regimen and follow-up care for your breast cancer. There is ongoing communication with your primary care provider—so everyone is kept up to date and informed.
Treatments & Services
Our multidisciplinary treatment model brings together doctors with different areas of expertise so that they can find the treatment that works best for you. This means you may have one treatment or many treatments.
Our job is to treat the woman who has breast cancer, not just cancer. The best health outcomes can only happen when treatment fits into your life, rather than the other way around.
To help make sure you can focus on the important things, we have resources available to help you with non-medical needs, from transportation to housing. BMC can also help facilitate care for anyone without insurance or whose insurance may not cover the care they need. Talk to your doctor to learn more.
Throughout your treatment, we encourage you to keep moving forward with your normal life as much as possible. Our goal is to get you to a cure, and we want you to be ready when you get there.
The Breast Cancer Program has been the proud recipient of grants from the Susan G. Koman Search for the Cure and the Avon Breast Cancer Foundation to further our efforts in breast cancer prevention, outreach and treatment for the patients of Boston Medical Center, their affiliated Health Centers and the community.
Mastectomy removes the whole breast. There are multiple types of mastectomy. The two most common types of mastectomy are simple (total) mastectomy and modified radical mastectomy. A simple mastectomy removes just the breast. When the lymph nodes underneath the arm (called the axillary lymph nodes) are removed in addition to the breast, it is called a modified radical mastectomy.
For patients with advanced-stage melanoma, immunotherapy may improve the body’s natural immune response to cancer. Immunotherapy recruits the body’s own immune system and uses it to fight cancer all over the body, making it difficult for cancer cells to hide or develop defenses against it. Immunotherapy has the potential to keep working even after the patient has completed treatment.
Radiation uses special equipment to deliver high-energy particles, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams or protons, to kill or damage cancer cells. Radiation (also called radiotherapy, irradiation, or x-ray therapy) can be delivered internally through seed implantation or externally using linear accelerators (called external beam radiotherapy, or EBRT).
Breast-conserving surgery (BCS) removes only part of the breast. How much of the breast is removed depends on the size of the tumor and where it is located. The medical term for this kind of surgery is a partial (or segmental) mastectomy. It is also called a lumpectomy or quadrantectomy.
Lymph Node Surgery
Some breast cancer patients may need lymph node surgery. Lymph node surgery is performed for staging purposes to find out whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm (axillary lymph nodes). One or more lymph nodes may be removed for examination under a microscope in one of two ways: an axillary lymph node dissection or a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
The use of cancer-killing drugs to treat cancer is called chemotherapy. The drugs can be administered intravenously, injected, or taken by mouth as a pill or a liquid. Once the drugs have entered the bloodstream, they circulate throughout the body, making them useful in killing any cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
Reconstructive or Breast Implant Surgery
Reconstructive or breast implant surgery is not meant to cure cancer. It is done to restore the appearance of the breast(s) after surgery. Depending on whether radiation therapy is part of your treatment plan, it is possible for breast reconstruction or implant surgery to be done at the time of mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery. If radiation therapy is part of your treatment plan, your physician may suggest waiting until after that part of your treatment is complete.
Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer
Hormone therapy is used to treat cancers that are hormone receptor-positive (meaning hormone receptors are present in the cells). Breast cancers can be estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive), progesterone receptor-positive (PR-positive), or both.
Targeted Therapy for Breast Cancer
Targeted therapy works differently than chemotherapy. The side effects of targeted therapy drugs are often different and less severe than those of standard chemotherapy drugs.
External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) for Breast Cancer
External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is usually administered in the radiation oncology department five days a week (Monday through Friday) for five to six weeks, though some newer methods have cut down treatment time to a few weeks or less.
Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy
Three-dimensional (3-D) conformal radiation therapy is based on a CT scan of the region of the body being treated. Radiation oncologists use computer software to determine how the patient will look from any angle and identify the best paths to direct the radiation.
BMC’s comprehensive breast cancer team includes physicians who work in internal medicine, medical oncology, pathology, radiation oncology, radiology/mammography and surgical oncology. Our patient-centered, multidisciplinary approach assures each patient benefits from the collaborative expertise of physicians uniquely focused on their individual needs.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast Cancer Treatment
BMC offers a number of clinical trials specifically for breast cancer patients. Promising new techniques in the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with cancer are tested in these studies. The number and types of clinical trials available are constantly changing.
Learn more about our ongoing breast cancer research and trials. Those interested in participating in any clinical trials at BMC should talk with their physician.
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