How Cancer Patients Can Benefit from a Lifestyle of Mindfulness

Dan Harris speaking at Dana-Farber about the importance of mindfulness.

There are many ways to define mindfulness. In a recent talk given at Dana-Farber, ABC news correspondent Dan Harris said mindfulness is the “ability to know what’s happening in your head right now without getting carried away by it.” Patricia Arcari, PhD, RN, of Dana-Farber’s Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, descibes it as paying attention and being fully aware of what you’re doing in the present moment. Definitions aside, mindfulness and meditation have proven to be powerful tools to help people through difficult circumstances. The practices are ancient but the research is relatively new – and findings suggest mindfulness and …

Continue reading

How to Care for a Partner with Cancer

Elaine and Patrick (Photo credit: Danny Sit)

By Patrick Steele Elaine needs a caregiver? That’s outrageous. She is a very independent and courageous woman. But as her husband and partner, I had to step into this role when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When Elaine and I first met in 2005, we stayed up late, telling stories. She showed me the scars on her shoulder where they’d cut out melanoma years before. I recall her words from that night like lines cut in glass. She told me nothing would stop her from grabbing everything she could. Was I willing to be with someone who had no …

Continue reading

FDA Approves Immunotherapy Drug Combination for Melanoma

F. Stephen Hodi, MD

This blog post originally appeared on Cancer Research Catalyst, the official blog of the American Association for Cancer Research. By Karen Honey, PhD Last week, new ground was broken in the field of cancer immunotherapy when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first cancer treatment to combine two of these cutting-edge agents: ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab (Opdivo). The immunotherapeutic combination has been approved to treat certain patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. Specifically, it is approved for patients who have tumors that do not harbor the BRAF V600 mutations found in about 50 percent of melanomas. Ipilimumab …

Continue reading

Ten Myths About Breast Cancer [Infographic]

breast cancer infographic

More than 230,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, making it the most common cancer among American women. With so many people affected by breast cancer, there is a lot of information — and unfortunately, misinformation — available. As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re dispelling the top ten myths about breast cancer. View the infographic below to learn more: More information on breast cancer treatment and research.

What’s the Link Between Cancer and Pesticides?


A study that found a sharply higher rate of breast cancer in women exposed to the pesticide DDT while in the womb has drawn renewed attention to the relationship between pesticide and herbicide exposure and cancer. The study, published earlier this year, tracked nearly 15,000 mothers, daughters, and granddaughters living in the San Francisco Bay area. Researchers measured DDT levels in the mothers of 118 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer by age 52, and in the mothers of 354 women without breast cancer. They found that daughters of women with the highest DDT exposures were 3.7 times more …

Continue reading

First Day of Cancer Treatment: Young Adult Shares Her Experience [Video]


From understanding medical jargon to experiencing “scanxiety,” entering a cancer center for the first time can be overwhelming. For young adults starting to establish their independence, the experience can be especially intimidating. Having a care team you know and trust, and seeking psychosocial support in the form of counseling or support groups, can help many patients adjust during this difficult time. Christina Dixon, who was successfully treated at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center for stage IVB Hodgkin lymphoma at age 22, talks about her experience coming to Dana-Farber as a young adult, including bonding with her care team and getting …

Continue reading

What’s New in Research for Blood Cancer Treatments?

The past two years have seen a surge of new treatments for blood cancers, such as lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma. Research on the genetic flaws underlying specific cancer types has led to new precision drugs such as ibrutinib and idelalisib and new immunotherapy agents that are improving outcomes in many patients with difficult-to-treat forms of blood cancers. Just in the last year, four new therapies have been approved for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common adult leukemia. An estimated 15,700 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with CLL last year, most of them elderly – the …

Continue reading

What Is CA-125?

CA-125, the abbreviated name for cancer antigen 125, is a protein that’s often elevated in ovarian cancer as well as other types of cancers, such as those of the lung and breast. It’s also elevated when disease or inflammation arises in the pleura – the tissue that enfolds the lungs – or the inner lining of the abdomen. It was discovered at Dana-Farber in 1981 by Robert Bast, MD, and Robert Knapp, MD, who quickly realized this protein could be used to follow treatment once the presence of ovarian cancer was found. They developed the CA-125 test, which measures the …

Continue reading

Why Are Thyroid Cancer Cases on the Rise?

While thyroid cancer is surging, the reasons why are very much a matter of debate. Some researchers claim the numbers primarily reflect improved diagnostic and detection techniques, others say the problem goes deeper. Official statistics depict a disease on the rise. Data collected by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) show the incidence of thyroid cancer – the number of people diagnosed within a given-size population – has more than doubled since the early 1970s. For women, it is the fastest-growing cancer as measured by the number of new cases each year. Many investigators point to improved methods of detection as …

Continue reading

Walking to Give ‘Hope for Nicholas’

childhood cancer, jimmy fund walk

Before Nicholas Cleary was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, his mother, Lisa, and aunt, Nicole, often talked about participating in the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai and had contributed to other Walk teams in the past. So when Nicholas was diagnosed at 22-months old, Nicole and Lisa knew right away they would start a team. “I’ve always supported organizations like the Jimmy Fund,” says Nicole. “But it has a totally different meaning when you are experiencing cancer first-hand.” A first-year team, “Hope for Nicholas” has raised a significant amount of money and recruited 34 team members. The …

Continue reading