LINAC VaultThe Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center & Surgical Pavilion brings advanced and comprehensive cancer treatment into the community. Our cancer specialists are members of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). That means the same expert physicians you would see in Boston are conveniently available close to home.

We can also provide quick and easy transition to BIDMC for tertiary care (the specialized resources of an academic medical center) should you need it.

Doctors treat cancer with a range of options, often combining several therapies to tackle the toughest cancers. Treatments available in our Cancer Center include the following.


Chemotherapy uses medicines or drugs to kill cancer cells or to stop them from growing and spreading. Doctors who administer chemotherapy (and biological agents and hormones) to treat cancer are called medical oncologists. Our medical oncologists provide academic-quality treatment for the full spectrum of cancers. Medical oncologists are part of a team – surgeons, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, chemotherapy nurses, social workers and case managers among others – who provide comprehensive cancer care.

Most often, patients receive chemotherapy drugs intravenously; that is, through a vein. But doctors could also prescribe oral medications (a pill or capsule to swallow); drugs delivered through an artery to treat a single area (for example, the liver); drugs injected into a muscle or the tumor itself; or drugs delivered into the abdominal or chest cavity, or spinal canal. Also, some drugs are topical; that is, rubbed on the cancer area on the skin.

Ten Infusion Bays

Chemotherapy and all of our other cancer services are conveniently located on the first floor of our Cancer Center. We have 10 chemotherapy bays, a private chemotherapy room for patients who are frail or in bed, and multiple clinical exam rooms. The setting is flooded with natural sunlight and overlooks a healing garden. We have designed every detail with patient comfort and privacy in mind, to create a calm, patient-centered feeling.

In a warm and supportive atmosphere, where families are welcome, our physicians, nurses, volunteers and social workers attend to your treatment needs and address your concerns and questions. Your medical oncologist will guide the care you need for your particular cancer and, together with a team of specialists, will:

  • Answer your questions about your cancer and cancer treatment
  • Talk with you and your family about treatment decisions
  • Coordinate any additional services you may need including social services, nutrition counseling, spiritual care, rehabilitation services, visiting nurses and hospice programs

If necessary, we can also coordinate more specialized medical oncology treatment – such as vaccines, biological agents or hormones – at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Clinical Trials

You may benefit from standard protocols (drugs and treatment administered in accordance with well-established guidelines) that improve the outcome of your particular cancer and symptoms. Or you may qualify for a clinical trial – research studies that are designed to find better treatments for cancer patients based on the most updated information from around the world.

Through these special research studies, patients can access new, potentially more effective treatment options before they become more widely available.

Our patients in Needham have access to clinical trials through the Boston campus of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. As a founding member of the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), the comprehensive cancer center at Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is part of the largest cancer research consortium in the country, with access to a broad array of the most current clinical trials. The BIDMC cancer clinical trials office coordinates trials in connection with DF/HCC and the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), among others.

Radiation Oncology

Doctors who treat cancer with radiation therapy are called radiation oncologists. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or particles to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing and dividing. The goal is to target just the tumor with the radiation beams, while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue. A treatment device called a linear accelerator, or LINAC, delivers the radiation beams.

The LINAC in our Cancer Center is above ground on the first floor, with all the other cancer services. Radiation therapy is almost always in a basement because the concrete and lead used to shield the LINAC is so heavy. Elevating the equipment was no small accomplishment, but central to honoring patient requests for more sunlight in our treatment areas.


In our radiation oncology suite, a new state-of-the-art Varian TruBeam linear accelerator delivers advanced radiation therapy services including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT). Doctors design and plan treatment to target just the tumor while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy tissues.

Treatment always begins with an initial consultation between you and your physician to determine the best approach for you. Some patients may also benefit from CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery. This option is available at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the first and most experienced center in New England to offer CyberKnife.

CyberKnife at BIDMC

CyberKnife features superior targeting accuracy with minimal exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. Its real-time, image-guided robotic technology continually tracks patient movement and confirms tumor location before beam delivery. It is especially effective at treating hard-to-reach tumors and tumors that move when breathing, such as lung tumors.