Before any patient begins treatment for cancer, oncologists should discuss first- and second-degree family cancer history, according to new recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The ASCO recommendations, published recently, are the first to focus on family history and a person’s genetic risk of cancer.
Whether it’s yoga, meditation, massage, or nutrition counseling, integrative therapies can offer a wide range of benefits for patients.
“The whole concept of integrative therapies is about improving the overall quality of life for cancer patients,” says David Rosenthal, MD, medical director of Dana-Farber’s Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. “Integrative and complementary therapies are helpful in all stages of diagnosis, from pre-cancer to survivorship.”
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S., with about 143,000 new patients diagnosed last year. But thanks to increased awareness about screenings, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years.
“For the most part, colorectal cancer is a curable and preventable disease,” says Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, clinical director of the Dana-Farber Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center. “We have very good data that shows screening prevents disease and saves lives.”
With March marking Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, here are the answers to some key questions about the disease:
The number of deaths from breast cancer has dropped over the past decade in the United States, but around the world, especially in less-developed countries, the number is rising. A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2013 said 522,000 women died from breast cancer in 2012 – a 14 percent increase compared with 2008.
Outcomes are gradually improving for patients who suffer from graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), one of the most serious complications of stem cell transplantation, and researchers are optimistic that further advances may be on the way.
By Bethany-Rose Daubman, MD
As a palliative care physician, part of my job is to help foster communication among family members making difficult health care decisions. This often relates to end-of-life matters, a topic I’ve grown comfortable with. In the department of psychosocial oncology and palliative care at Dana-Farber, my colleagues and I describe health care proxies and power of attorneys, discuss the differences between allowing a loved one a natural death and “pulling the plug,” and use a family’s natural rhythms of communication to guide these conversations.
You’d think my own family would have all of this figured out, but sadly, you’d be wrong.
Not long ago, a diagnosis of multiple myeloma — a cancer of the bone marrow — carried with it a very poor prognosis, with median survival estimates of just two to three years. Now, thanks in large part to research and treatment advances at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), this disease is for many patients a chronic, and more manageable disease, with prognosis now improved to median survivals of seven to ten years.
Here is a look at how DF/BWCC physician-scientists and patients have helped lead the way toward improved treatment for multiple myeloma over the past three decades.
Rumors of a link between deodorant/antiperspirant and breast cancer have been around for nearly 20 years. The theory is that by blocking sweat glands in the armpits (particularly in women who shave their underarms), antiperspirants allow toxic compounds to accumulate in the underarm lymph nodes near the breasts, prompting cancer to develop.
Getting the nutrients your body needs isn’t always easy, especially when certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, may make food less desirable. Many people consider taking vitamins and supplements to ensure optimal health, but, according to Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, it is important to think about the benefits of “food first.”
In prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men aside from skin cancer – scientists are working to answer some of the most basic questions about the disease while developing an array of new treatments.
Using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, doctors are often able to detect prostate cancer at an early stage. But it remains difficult to determine which prostate cancers are likely to spread – and therefore require aggressive treatment – and which are either idle or slow-growing, and can be dealt with by “observation or active surveillance.” This uncertainty could result in unnecessary treatment for some patients.