Archive for June 12, 2012

Fact or fiction: symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer

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Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer that affects young women more than older women.  Because it’s relatively uncommon — it represents less than five percent of all breast cancer cases — people are often confused about what inflammatory breast cancer is and how you can detect it.

As a breast oncologist specializing in inflammatory breast cancer, I want to share some of the common myths to help you separate fact from fiction about IBC. Read more

Science and serendipity: How the study of basic science leads to unexpected results

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What’s a cancer scientist doing earning an award for diabetes or cardiovascular research?

The two Dana-Farber scientists who received the prizes in early June say they are great examples of how research that isn’t tied to specific goals can lead to unanticipated discoveries in other areas. They argue that just as their unrestricted pursuit of scientific questions in cancer biology has paid off in two different fields of biomedicine – diabetes and heart disease – research that originally wasn’t related to cancer has shed light on the roots of malignant diseases. Read more

What is immunotherapy for cancer?

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Immunotherapy is one of the most technologically advanced yet basic forms of cancer treatment. It uses the body’s own defense mechanism, the immune system, to fight cancer.

Immunotherapy is probably most familiar to you in the form of vaccinations for the flu, polio, chicken pox, and other contagious diseases. In those cases, people are injected with a dead or weakened form of the virus responsible for the disease. That prompts the immune system to produce antibodies and white blood cells that ward off infection from the live virus.

For cancer prevention, two immune system-stimulating vaccines are now in use: one to protect against infection by the hepatitis B virus, which can give rise to liver cancer; and one to prevent infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to cervical cancer, some cancers of the head and neck, as well as anal and penile cancers.

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A talk with Sam Donaldson, melanoma survivor

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Sam Donaldson speaking at Dana-Farber on surviving melanoma

“I don’t believe that optimism can cure cancer, but I do believe one’s general health around the edges can make a difference.”

Sam Donaldson, ABC News contributor, learned he had melanoma (a type of skin cancer) in 1997. Despite his diagnosis, he opted to stay positive and learn all he could about his disease. Now chairman of the foundation board at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), Donaldson also works with other cancer research on survivorship initiatives. He talked to us about what he learned, and shares some of his insights here. Read more