Photo of Nancy J. Tarbell,  MD

Nancy J. Tarbell, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital
Phone: (617) 724-1836
Fax: (617) 724-4808

Nancy J. Tarbell, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital


  • C.C. Wang Professor, Radiation Oncology, Harvard Medical School
  • Head, Pediatric Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Dean, Academic and Clinical Affairs, Harvard Medical School


Research Abstract

As a clinical investigator in pediatric radiation oncology our current research is aimed at effective strategies to decrease late effects in survivors. My primary work for the last 5 years has been with the use of proton radiation therapy in pediatric brain tumors. This technique substantially decreases the amount of radiation to normal tissue.

Currently, patients with medulloblastoma as well as other childhood tumors are eligible for protocols using protons.


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  • Ladra MM, Mandeville HC, Niemierko A, Padera TP, Friedmann AM, MacDonald SM, Ebb D, Chen YL, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Local failure in parameningeal rhabdomyosarcoma correlates with poor response to induction chemotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2015; 92:358-67. PubMed
  • Jakacki RI, Burger PC, Kocak M, Boyett JM, Goldwein J, Mehta M, Packer RJ, Tarbell NJ, Pollack IF. Outcome and prognostic factors for children with supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumors treated with carboplatin during radiotherapy: A report from the Children's Oncology Group. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2015; 62:776-83. PubMed
  • Lucas JT, Ladra MM, MacDonald SM, Busse PM, Friedmann AM, Ebb DH, Marcus KJ, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Proton therapy for pediatric and adolescent esthesioneuroblastoma. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2015. PubMed
  • Mailhot Vega R, Kim J, Hollander A, Hattangadi-Gluth J, Michalski J, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI, Bussiere M, MacDonald SM. Cost effectiveness of proton versus photon radiation therapy with respect to the risk of growth hormone deficiency in children. Cancer 2015. PubMed
  • Min C, Paganetti H, Winey BA, Adams J, MacDonald SM, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Evaluation of permanent alopecia in pediatric medulloblastoma patients treated with proton radiation. Radiat Oncol 2014; 9:220. PubMed
  • Ladra MM, Szymonifka JD, Mahajan A, Friedmann AM, Yong Yeap B, Goebel CP, MacDonald SM, Grosshans DR, Rodriguez-Galindo C, Marcus KJ, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Preliminary Results of a Phase II Trial of Proton Radiotherapy for Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma. J Clin Oncol 2014. PubMed
  • Yock TI, Bhat S, Szymonifka J, Yeap BY, Delahaye J, Donaldson SS, MacDonald SM, Pulsifer MB, Hill KS, DeLaney TF, Ebb D, Huang M, Tarbell NJ, Fisher PG, Kuhlthau KA. Quality of life outcomes in proton and photon treated pediatric brain tumor survivors. Radiother Oncol 2014. PubMed
  • Ladra MM, Edgington SK, Mahajan A, Grosshans D, Szymonifka J, Khan F, Moteabbed M, Friedmann AM, MacDonald SM, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. A dosimetric comparison of proton and intensity modulated radiation therapy in pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma patients enrolled on a prospective phase II proton study. Radiother Oncol 2014; 113:77-83. PubMed
  • DuBois SG, Krailo MD, Gebhardt MC, Donaldson SS, Marcus KJ, Dormans J, Shamberger RC, Sailer S, Nicholas RW, Healey JH, Tarbell NJ, Randall RL, Devidas M, Meyer JS, Granowetter L, Womer RB, Bernstein M, Marina N, Grier HE. Comparative evaluation of local control strategies in localized Ewing sarcoma of bone: A report from the Children's Oncology Group. Cancer 2014. PubMed
  • Mouw KW, Sethi RV, Yeap BY, MacDonald SM, Chen YL, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI, Munzenrider JE, Adams J, Grabowski E, Mukai S, Shih HA. Proton Radiation Therapy for the Treatment of Retinoblastoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2014. PubMed
  • Greenberger BA, Pulsifer MB, Ebb DH, MacDonald SM, Jones RM, Butler WE, Huang MS, Marcus KJ, Oberg JA, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Clinical outcomes and late endocrine, neurocognitive, and visual profiles of proton radiation for pediatric low-grade gliomas. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2014; 89:1060-8. PubMed
  • Sethi RV, Giantsoudi D, Raiford M, Malhi I, Niemierko A, Rapalino O, Caruso P, Yock TI, Tarbell NJ, Paganetti H, MacDonald SM. Patterns of failure after proton therapy in medulloblastoma; linear energy transfer distributions and relative biological effectiveness associations for relapses. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2014; 88:655-63. PubMed
  • Sethi RV, Shih HA, Yeap BY, Mouw KW, Petersen R, Kim DY, Munzenrider JE, Grabowski E, Rodriguez-Galindo C, Yock TI, Tarbell NJ, Marcus KJ, Mukai S, MacDonald SM. Second nonocular tumors among survivors of retinoblastoma treated with contemporary photon and proton radiotherapy. Cancer 2013; 120:126-33. PubMed
  • Mailhot Vega RB, Kim J, Bussière M, Hattangadi J, Hollander A, Michalski J, Tarbell NJ, Yock T, MacDonald SM. Cost effectiveness of proton therapy compared with photon therapy in the management of pediatric medulloblastoma. Cancer 2013; 119:4299-307. PubMed
  • Aizer AA, Ancukiewicz M, Nguyen PL, Macdonald SM, Yock TI, Tarbell NJ, Shih HA, Loeffler JS, Oh KS. Natural history and role of radiation in patients with supratentorial and infratentorial WHO grade II ependymomas: results from a population-based study. J. Neurooncol. 2013; 115:411-9. PubMed
  • Sethi RV, Marino R, Niemierko A, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI, MacDonald SM. Delayed diagnosis in children with intracranial germ cell tumors. J Pediatr 2013; 163:1448-53. PubMed
  • Macdonald SM, Sethi R, Lavally B, Yeap BY, Marcus KJ, Caruso P, Pulsifer M, Huang M, Ebb D, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Proton radiotherapy for pediatric central nervous system ependymoma: clinical outcomes for 70 patients. 2013; 15:1552-9. PubMed
  • Chung CS, Yock TI, Nelson K, Xu Y, Keating NL, Tarbell NJ. Incidence of second malignancies among patients treated with proton versus photon radiation. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2013; 87:46-52. PubMed
  • Jimenez RB, Sethi R, Depauw N, Pulsifer MB, Adams J, McBride SM, Ebb D, Fullerton BC, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI, Macdonald SM. Proton radiation therapy for pediatric medulloblastoma and supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumors: outcomes for very young children treated with upfront chemotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2013; 87:120-6. PubMed
  • Tarbell NJ, Friedman H, Polkinghorn WR, Yock T, Zhou T, Chen Z, Burger P, Barnes P, Kun L. High-risk medulloblastoma: a pediatric oncology group randomized trial of chemotherapy before or after radiation therapy (POG 9031). J Clin Oncol 2013; 31:2936-41. PubMed
  • Aizer AA, Sethi RV, Hedley-Whyte ET, Ebb D, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI, Macdonald SM. Bifocal intracranial tumors of nongerminomatous germ cell etiology: diagnostic and therapeutic implications. 2013. PubMed
  • De Amorim Bernstein K, Sethi R, Trofimov A, Zeng C, Fullerton B, Yeap BY, Ebb D, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI, Macdonald SM. Early clinical outcomes using proton radiation for children with central nervous system atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2013; 86:114-20. PubMed
  • Metzger ML, Weinstein HJ, Hudson MM, Billett AL, Larsen EC, Friedmann A, Howard SC, Donaldson SS, Krasin MJ, Kun LE, Marcus KJ, Yock TI, Tarbell N, Billups CA, Wu J, Link MP. Association between radiotherapy vs no radiotherapy based on early response to VAMP chemotherapy and survival among children with favorable-risk Hodgkin lymphoma. JAMA 2012; 307:2609-16. PubMed
  • Kuhlthau KA, Pulsifer MB, Yeap BY, Rivera Morales D, Delahaye J, Hill KS, Ebb D, Abrams AN, Macdonald SM, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Prospective study of health-related quality of life for children with brain tumors treated with proton radiotherapy. J Clin Oncol 2012; 30:2079-86. PubMed
  • Childs SK, Kozak KR, Friedmann AM, Yeap BY, Adams J, Macdonald SM, Liebsch NJ, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Proton Radiotherapy for Parameningeal Rhabdomyosarcoma: Clinical Outcomes and Late Effects. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2011. PubMed
  • Macdonald SM, Trofimov A, Safai S, Adams J, Fullerton B, Ebb D, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Proton Radiotherapy for Pediatric Central Nervous System Germ Cell Tumors: Early Clinical Outcomes. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2010; 79:121-9. PubMed
  • Cotter SE, Herrup DA, Friedmann A, Macdonald SM, Pieretti RV, Robinson G, Adams J, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Proton Radiotherapy for Pediatric Bladder/Prostate Rhabdomyosarcoma: Clinical Outcomes and Dosimetry Compared to Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2010. PubMed
  • Kozak KR,Adams J,Krejcarek SJ,Tarbell NJ,Yock TI. A dosimetric comparison of proton and intensity-modulated photon radiotherapy for pediatric parameningeal rhabdomyosarcomas. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2008; 74:179-86. PubMed
  • Winkfield KM,Linsenmeier C,Yock TI,Grant PE,Yeap BY,Butler WE,Tarbell NJ. Surveillance of craniopharyngioma cyst growth in children treated with proton radiotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2008; 73:716-21. PubMed
  • Simard PF,Bolton RM,Tarbell NJ. Anti-inflammatory cream reduces skin damage induced by ionizing radiation. Oncologist 2009; 14:197-8. PubMed
  • Alm El-Din MA,Hughes KS,Finkelstein DM,Betts KA,Yock TI,Tarbell NJ,Aisenberg AC,Taghian AG. Breast cancer after treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma: risk factors that really matter. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2008; 73:69-74. PubMed
  • Macdonald SM, Safai S, Trofimov A, Wolfgang J, Fullerton B, Yeap BY, Bortfeld T, Tarbell NJ, Yock T. Proton Radiotherapy for Childhood Ependymoma: Initial Clinical Outcomes and Dose Comparisons. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2008; 71:979-86. PubMed
  • Goumnerova L, Drzymalski D, Kieran M, Pomeroy S, Scott RM, Tarbell N. Long-term neurological and neurosurgical outcomes after surgery only in children with low-grade brain tumors. J Neurosurg Pediatrics 2008; 1:A354-5. PubMed
  • Cochran DM, Yock TI, Adams JA, Tarbell NJ. Radiation dose to the lens during craniospinal irradiation-an improvement in proton radiotherapy technique. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2007; 70:1336-42. PubMed
  • Jagsi R, Tarbell NJ, Henault LE, Chang Y, Hylek EM. The representation of women on the editorial boards of major medical journals: a 35-year perspective. Arch Intern Med 2008; 168:544-8. PubMed
  • Gabeau-Lacet D, Grant E, Stemmer-Rachamimov A, Yock T, Tarbell NJ. Sellar abnormalities in female first-degree relatives. Clin Neurol Neurosurg 2007; 110:202-6. PubMed
  • Miser JS, Goldsby RE, Chen Z, Krailo MD, Tarbell NJ, Link MP, Fryer CJ, Pritchard DJ, Gebhardt MC, Dickman PS, Perlman EJ, Meyers PA, Donaldson SS, Moore SG, Rausen AR, Vietti TJ, Grier HE. Treatment of metastatic Ewing sarcoma/primitive neuroectodermal tumor of bone: evaluation of increasing the dose intensity of chemotherapy--a report from the Children's Oncology Group. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2007; 49:894-900. PubMed
  • Liu AK, Marcus KJ, Fischl B, Grant PE, Young Poussaint T, Rivkin MJ, Davis P, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Changes in cerebral cortex of children treated for medulloblastoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2007; 68:992-8. PubMed
  • Dey BR, Shaffer J, Yee AJ, McAfee S, Caron M, Power K, Ting DT, Colby C, Preffer F, Ballen K, Attar E, Saidman S, Tarbell N, Sachs D, Sykes M, Spitzer TR. Comparison of outcomes after transplantation of peripheral blood stem cells versus bone marrow following an identical nonmyeloablative conditioning regimen. Bone Marrow Transplant 2007; 40:19-27. PubMed
  • Krejcarek SC, Grant PE, Henson JW, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. Physiologic and Radiographic Evidence of the Distal Edge of the Proton Beam in Craniospinal Irradiation. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2007; 68:646-9. PubMed
  • Polkinghorn WR, Tarbell NJ. Medulloblastoma: tumorigenesis, current clinical paradigm, and efforts to improve risk stratification. Nat Clin Pract Oncol 2007; 4:295-304. PubMed
  • Ullrich NJ, Robertson R, Kinnamon DD, Scott RM, Kieran MW, Turner CD, Chi SN, Goumnerova L, Proctor M, Tarbell NJ, Marcus KJ, Pomeroy SL. Moyamoya following cranial irradiation for primary brain tumors in children. Neurology 2007; 68:932-8. PubMed
  • Marcus KJ, Astrakas LG, Zurakowski D, Zarifi MK, Mintzopoulos D, Poussaint TY, Anthony DC, De Girolami U, Black PM, Tarbell NJ, Tzika AA. Predicting survival of children with CNS tumors using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging biomarkers. Int J Oncol 2007; 30:651-7. PubMed
  • Jagsi R, Butterton JR, Starr R, Tarbell NJ. A targeted intervention for the career development of women in academic medicine. Arch Intern Med 2007; 167:343-5. PubMed
  • Donaldson SS, Link MP, Weinstein HJ, Rai SN, Brain S, Billett AL, Hurwitz CA, Krasin M, Kun LE, Marcus KC, Tarbell NJ, Young JA, Hudson MM. Final results of a prospective clinical trial with VAMP and low-dose involved-field radiation for children with low-risk Hodgkin's disease. J Clin Oncol 2007; 25:332-7. PubMed
  • Jagsi R, Tarbell NJ. Women in radiation oncology: time to break through the glass ceiling. J Am Coll Radiol 2007; 3:901-3. PubMed
  • Yock TI, Krailo M, Fryer CJ, Donaldson SS, Miser JS, Chen Z, Bernstein M, Laurie F, Gebhardt MC, Grier HE, Tarbell NJ,. Local control in pelvic Ewing sarcoma: analysis from INT-0091--a report from the Children's Oncology Group. J Clin Oncol 2006; 24:3838-43. PubMed
  • Jagsi R, Guancial EA, Worobey CC, Henault LE, Chang Y, Starr R, Tarbell NJ, Hylek EM. The "gender gap" in authorship of academic medical literature--a 35-year perspective. N Engl J Med 2006; 355:281-7. PubMed
  • Jahraus CD, Tarbell NJ. Optic pathway gliomas. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2006; 46:586-96. PubMed
  • Miralbell R, Fitzgerald TJ, Laurie F, Kessel S, Glicksman A, Friedman HS, Urie M, Kepner JL, Zhou T, Chen Z, Barnes P, Kun L, Tarbell NJ. Radiotherapy in pediatric medulloblastoma: quality assessment of Pediatric Oncology Group Trial 9031. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2006; 64:1325-30. PubMed
  • Viswanathan AN, Grier HE, Litman HJ, Perez-Atayde A, Tarbell NJ, Neuberg D, Shamberger RC, Marcus KJ. Outcome for children with group III rhabdomyosarcoma treated with or without radiotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2004; 58:1208-14. PubMed
  • Carpentieri SC, Waber DP, Pomeroy SL, Scott RM, Goumnerova LC, Kieran MW, Billett AL, Tarbell NJ. Neuropsychological functioning after surgery in children treated for brain tumor. Neurosurgery 2003; 52:1348-56; discussion 1356-. PubMed