Breast Cancer Care

Compassion, caring and advanced treatments to help you heal

Breast Cancer Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham

A breast cancer diagnosis can be completely unexpected, utterly frightening and emotionally draining. For many people, it also can be confusing. You may not know what the diagnosis means for you or what you should do next. Confusion can create even more stress.

At BID Needham, we understand the challenges faced by those with breast cancer. We also know the difference made by having the right people at your side. That’s why we’ve put together a compassionate team of experts who are experienced in all aspects of breast cancer care. We’ll fight your breast cancer with advanced technology, the most up-to-date therapies and support services that make your cancer journey easier. From diagnosis through treatment and beyond, we’re here for you.

Trust the BreastCare Center for All Your Breast Health Needs

Screening & Diagnostic Services

Breast cancer is highly treatable, especially when we find it in its earliest stages. Mammograms are low-dose X-rays of the breast. They’ve been proven to help find breast cancer early, even before you have symptoms. They’re the best screening tool available for women at average risk of developing the disease.

The breast imaging department at our BreastCare Center is accredited by the American College of Radiology. We focus on providing you with the best available imaging care. We offer state-of-the-art digital mammography with highly trained mammography technicians.

In addition to routine screening mammograms, we also offer diagnostic mammograms if an area of concern is identified. Other tests for screening and diagnosis are available if needed, as well. These include:

  • Breast MRI — An advanced screening tool we may use if you’re at high risk for breast cancer. This test can provide more details about specific breast conditions. The test does not involve radiation.
  • Breast ultrasound — This test provides images of your breast using sound waves rather than radiation. Breast ultrasound also is used to provide guidance during biopsies.

Our radiologists are highly skilled at interpreting breast imaging results. And we get those results to you as quickly as possible.

Breast Biopsies

If tests reveal a lump or abnormality in your breast, your doctor may want you to have a biopsy. This is the only way to be certain if the area is cancerous. Keep in mind that most biopsies show that cancer is not present.

For a typical biopsy, doctors place a needle through the skin of your breast to remove cells or tissue.

  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy removes cells from the area.
  • Core biopsy uses a different needle to remove a larger amount of tissue.
  • Stereotactic core biopsy uses imaging technology to guide the core biopsy procedure.

In some cases, we may recommend a surgical biopsy. During this procedure, a surgeon makes a small cut over your skin to access and remove tissue from a suspicious area.

Our breast pathologists examine the tissue from your biopsy to make a diagnosis and help guide treatment decisions. These doctors are on staff at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. That means you get the same world-class expertise you’d find in Boston right here closer to home.

We know waiting for biopsy results can be stressful. We make every effort to share our findings with you as soon as possible.

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast cancer awareness is key to early detection. Knowing the possible signs of breast cancer may help you get care before your next planned screening if you experience something unusual. Signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include:

  • New breast lump or mass.
  • Breast swelling.
  • Dimpling (pitted appearance on the skin of your breast).
  • Discharge from your nipple.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes near your collar bone or under your arm.
  • Nipple that turns inward.
  • Pain in your breast or nipple.

These aren’t always related to breast cancer, but it is important to tell your provider about any changes you see or feel in your breasts.

Breast Cancer Treatments

If your biopsy reveals cancer, we have a team of specialists ready to help. It includes breast surgeons, your pathologist and breast radiologists. Medical and radiation oncologists and nurse practitioners are on the team, as well. You meet all of them, and they’re accessible to you and your family. They’re more than willing to address your questions, concerns and fears.

Together as a team, these professionals review your case and agree on the best treatment options for you. Recommendations are based on several factors, such as:

  • A gene profile of your tumor.
  • The number of lymph nodes that may be involved.
  • The size of your tumor and its features.
  • Your overall health.

Treatment is personalized based on your unique situation. We always focus on what’s best for you.

Treating Your Tumor: Surgery & Radiation Therapy

Treatment for breast cancer usually involves surgery to remove your tumor. This is considered a local treatment and may involve:

  • Lumpectomy, also known as breast-conserving surgery. During this operation, surgeons remove your lump and leave most of your breast intact. Hidden-scar surgery allows us to place the incision in a discrete location. This might be along the edge of your areola, under your breast or in your arm pit (axilla).

At BID Needham, we use SAVI SCOUT Radar Localization technology to mark your tumor’s location up to 30 days before surgery. It involves placing a reflector that’s about the size of a grain of rice near your tumor. Just before surgery, your surgeon activates the reflector and nonradioactive radar waves detect its location in the breast.

The technique allows for pinpoint precision when removing your tumor. It’s much easier on you than wire localization, which was used in the past. That procedure involved placing a protruding wire in your breast to mark your tumor location. It was often uncomfortable and forced you to restrict movement for hours before surgery.

Lumpectomy is usually followed by radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that may remain in the area.

  • Mastectomy, or removal of your breast. Breast reconstruction surgery is possible with this option. Your surgeon also may be able to perform a nipple-sparing mastectomy. This procedure removes breast tissue while preserving your skin, nipple and areola. It also can be done as a hidden-scar operation and may offer a more satisfying cosmetic result. Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy after mastectomy.
Treating Your Body: Chemotherapy & Hormone Therapy

Treatment targets the tumor in your breast. But sometimes cancer cells can break away from the original tumor and travel to other parts of your body. There, they can form new tumors. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy act on your entire body. They’re designed to treat any cancer cells that may have escaped from the tumor in your breast. This type of treatment is known as systemic treatment.

Support Services

At BID Needham, we care for you in body, mind and spirit. Our support and survivorship services are designed to help you cope with cancer. Among other services, they include:

Genetic Counseling & Testing

It’s possible to have a gene mutation that increases your risk for breast cancer in the future. Sometimes, this gene may have an impact on your current care, as well. At BID Needham, we offer genetic counseling and testing if your family history suggests you may have one of these mutations.

Breast Cancer Surveillance Clinic

If you’re at high risk for breast cancer because of personal or family history, we offer a special surveillance clinic.

Types of Breast Cancer We Treat

Receive care for all types of breast cancer at BID Needham.
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma
  • Metastatic breast cancer
  • Paget disease of the breast
  • Phyllodes tumor
  • Triple negative breast cancer

Services & Specialties

Your BID Needham cancer care team works with other specialty providers to ensure continuity of care for all your needs.

Make an Appointment

To speak with a member of our cancer care team, please call.