Mayo Clinic's approach

Doctors discuss a radiation therapy treatment plan

Your Mayo Clinic care team

Your care team is led by a cancer doctor with extensive training in the use of radiation to treat cancer (radiation oncologist). At Mayo Clinic, radiation oncologists who treat breast cancer are highly specialized, which means a substantial amount of their time is devoted to caring for people with breast cancer.

Your radiation oncologist works with a team of experts such as physicists, dosimetrists, radiation therapists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurses to ensure the safe delivery of radiation therapy. These team members work together to provide exactly the care you need.

Personalized breast cancer treatment

Your expert team works with you to create a personalized treatment plan. A broad range of treatment options are available at Mayo Clinic, including proton therapy — a newer form of radiation therapy that enables your radiation oncologist to target the area at risk while protecting normal tissues such as the heart and lungs.

Proton therapy offers more precise radiation dose delivery to the treatment target and protection of nearby healthy tissue. This is because proton beams, unlike X-rays, do not travel beyond the target.

Your treatment plan will be based on what's right for you and what matters to you. For example, people who seek care at Mayo Clinic may be eligible treatments that safely shorten their course of radiation by several weeks.

A doctor helps a woman prepare for radiation therapy.

Innovative techniques

People with breast cancer who come to Mayo Clinic have access to the most advanced radiation therapy technology and innovative techniques. From this full range of options, you will receive therapy to treat breast cancer safely and with less inconvenience. For example:

  • Fast-tracking radiation. Mayo Clinic pioneered new techniques for partial-breast irradiation (PBI), where the radiation therapy is highly focused to the area where the tumor was removed, sparing normal tissues. For select people with early-stage breast cancer, radiation therapy may be completed in as few as three to five days.

    One PBI option combines surgery and the placement of an internal radiation (brachytherapy) device for delivery of radiation therapy. This eliminates the waiting time between surgery and beginning brachytherapy, enabling both treatments to be completed in just five to 10 days. Another option allows you to return after healing from surgery for a short three- to five-day course of external (X-ray or proton) PBI.

  • Protecting healthy tissue. Mayo Clinic prevents side effects by using advanced methods to minimize exposing normal tissue to radiation that are personalized for each patient. These include the ability to treat facedown (prone) or faceup (supine), deep inspiration breath-hold technique, and proton therapy.
  • Using proton therapy. Some people may be evaluated for proton therapy. Mayo Clinic's Proton Beam Therapy Program features intensity-modulated proton therapy with pencil beam scanning that allows radiation oncologists to destroy the cancer while sparing healthy tissue. Some proton treatment regimens may be shorter than X-ray regimens.

The Mayo Clinic experience and patient stories

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care like they've never experienced. See the stories of satisfied Mayo Clinic patients.

Expertise and rankings

A breast cancer consultation at Mayo Clinic

Every year Mayo Clinic radiation oncology teams treat thousands of people with breast cancer. These teams help people with all types of breast cancer.

Mayo Clinic offers the latest in advanced radiation technologies and techniques. Research suggests that people who undergo radiation therapy for breast cancer at facilities that use advanced techniques may have less radiation exposure to normal tissues, such as the heart, than do those treated at medical centers that don't offer these advances. Studies show that lowering the radiation dose to the heart reduces the risk of heart disease in the years after treatment.

Nationally recognized expertise

Mayo Clinic is recognized for high-quality breast cancer care and research by national organizations.

  • Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center meets strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, recognizing scientific excellence and a multidisciplinary approach focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Mayo Clinic is part of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC) and NRG Oncology, which are international groups of scientists who work together to conduct clinical trials and reduce the impact of cancer.
  • Mayo Clinic is one of a select group of medical centers in the United States to be recognized as a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) for breast cancer research, funded by the National Cancer Institute. To earn a highly competitive SPORE grant, institutions must demonstrate a high degree of collaboration between first-rate scientists and clinicians and show excellence in translational research projects.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

For more information on visiting Mayo Clinic, choose your location below:

Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals, or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

More information about billing and insurance:

Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota

Mayo Clinic Health System

Clinical trials

Explore Mayo Clinic studies of tests and procedures to help prevent, detect, treat or manage conditions.

Oct. 06, 2022
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  10. Member institutions. Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology. Accessed Jan. 22, 2021.
  11. Sites. Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium. Accessed Jan. 22, 2021.
  12. Member institution lists. NRG Oncology. Accessed Jan. 22, 2021.
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  14. Mutter RW, et al. Three fraction pencil-beam scanning proton accelerated partial breast irradiation: Early provider and patient reported outcomes of a novel regimen. Radiation Oncology. 2019; doi:10.1186/s13014-019-1417-7.
  15. Murray Brunt A, et al. Hypofractionated breast radiotherapy for 1 week versus 3 weeks (FAST-Forward): 5-year efficacy and late normal tissue effects results from a multicenter, non-inferiority, randomized, phase 3 trial. Lancet. 2020; doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30932-6.
  16. Darby SC, et al. Risk of ischemic heart disease in women after radiotherapy for breast cancer. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2013; doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1209825.
  17. Jethwa KR, et al. Three-fraction intracavitary accelerated partial breast brachytherapy: Early provider and patient-reported outcomes of a novel regimen. International Journal of Radiation Oncology-Biology-Physics. 2019; doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2018.12.025.

Radiation therapy for breast cancer