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Medical oncology refers to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer using chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. These treatment options are also known as “systemic therapies” because they affect your entire body, not just the area with the tumor. Medical oncology is an essential component of breast cancer treatment because it kills all the microscopic cancer cells circulating in other parts of your body, not just the breasts.

Dr. Katherina Calvillo is an incredibly compassionate and talented breast cancer specialist and surgeon with nearly 20 years of experience at Harvard and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She works with some of the country’s leading Harvard-affiliated pathologists, radiologists, surgeons, and oncologists to coordinate your treatment plan. We use the latest and safest therapies to minimize the risk of breast cancer (for high-risk patients), treat breast cancer, and prevent a recurrence.


Chemotherapy involves using oral or intravenous medications to kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing further. The medications used for chemotherapy circulate in the bloodstream, so they can target all the cancer cells in the body and not just those in the breasts. Some medications prevent cancer cells from multiplying, whereas others facilitate their self-destruction.

Chemotherapy is a standard treatment for most patients, including those undergoing breast surgery, because it minimizes the risk of recurrence. However, thanks to recent advancements in genomic testing, we can now identify patients who may not benefit from chemotherapy, thus sparing them from chemo’s considerable side effects.

Hormone Therapy

Estrogen and progesterone are essential hormones that regulate numerous bodily functions, such as menstruation. However, some types of breast cancers feed on these hormones to stimulate growth. Hormone therapy involves using blockers or inhibitors to cut off the cancer tumor’s supply of estrogen and progesterone, thus preventing its growth.

Hormone therapy is only meant for patients with hormone-sensitive breast cancer, i.e., the breast cancer cells have receptors for estrogen and progesterone. Hormone therapy is given to patients with early-stage cancer to minimize the risk of recurrence, those with metastatic cancer to slow tumor growth, and those with a high risk of breast cancer.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy involves using highly-targeted medications to destroy specific cancer cells without harming any of the healthy or normal cells. Since targeted therapy only affects specific cancer cells, it produces fewer side effects than chemotherapy. This treatment protocol is generally suitable for patients with HER2-positive cancer, i.e., the cancer cells have HER2 receptors for growth.

Your Medical Oncology in Wellesley, MA

New England Breast and Wellness is a center dedicated to comprehensive and personalized breast cancer care in Wellesley, MA. Dr. Calvillo oversees all treatments and individually curates all treatment plans according to your unique needs and preferences. We take a comprehensive approach to breast cancer care — we treat breast cancer and use the latest systemic therapies to minimize the risk of recurrence.

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