Archive for November 29, 2012

Making Science Count: A Conversation with Ken Anderson

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When Ken Anderson, MD, began working on multiple myeloma four decades ago, the disease, a cancer of the bone marrow, was untreatable. “People died within months,” says Anderson.

Today, the story is very different. In the past decade, eight new multiple myeloma treatments have been approved. Survival has doubled. “When we see new patients, we can look them in the eye and say it’s likely you will live a decade or longer with modern therapies,” says Anderson, who recently received a 2012 Medal of Honor award from the American Cancer Society for his contributions to these advancements. “And that’s continuing to improve.”

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Why You Need a Health Care Proxy

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What would happen if you were accidentally knocked unconscious and had to be taken to the emergency room? Would doctors know who to go to with questions about your care?

A health care proxy form is a legal document that names a trusted person who can make medical decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. Read more

If You Build It, They Will Come: Cancer Care in Rwanda

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by Barbara Virchick

On July 18, 2012, a Cancer Center of Excellence opened in Butaro, Rwanda, as a collaboration between Partners In Health and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. I was fortunate to have been there during this exciting time, working as part of a three-month fellowship to help train the nursing staff to care for Rwandan cancer patients.

I don’t think any of us were prepared for the explosion of patients who would arrive during the first month we were open. Read more

Why Nursing? One Oncology Nurse Explains

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Laura Ma remembers the moment nursing chose her.

Upon earning her bachelor’s degree in art and sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz, she received her emergency teaching credential because of critical teacher shortages in the state. Three years later, she “felt like she needed something more,” Ma says. After relocating to Boston, she worked as a receptionist at Planned Parenthood. “I witnessed the amazing work the nurses did there,” she says. “Seeing education applied in a health care setting – that is when I knew I wanted to be a nurse.”

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Let’s Talk Turkey: Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

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As we approach the Thanksgiving meal, Dana-Farber nutritionists offer some easy tips for enjoying the holiday without packing on pounds.

The average Thanksgiving dinner contains at least 3,000 calories. When you add in snacks, appetizers, and drinks throughout the day, you may end up consuming approximately 4,500 calories (two to three times what you may normally eat). Although this is only one meal, excess calories from a holiday season are unhealthy in the long run, as obesity is a risk factor for cancer. Read more

Five Truths About Lung Cancer

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While other kinds of cancer may receive more public attention, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths. There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell carcinoma and non-small cell carcinoma, both of which mainly affect people over 45 years old.

We spoke with Bruce E. Johnson, MD about causes and treatment options. Read more

Siblings Are Thankful for Bone Marrow Transplant

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On Thanksgiving Day every year, Marc Kutzer and his sister, Roberta Klein, have much to be thankful for.

In 2001, Kutzer went to his primary care physician for a routine physical. What his doctor discovered led Kutzer, 52, to Dana-Farber — and to a procedure he credits for saving not only his life, but also his sister’s. Read more

Stem Cell vs. Bone Marrow Transplant: What’s the Difference?

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With Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber has performed thousands of stem cell/bone marrow transplants for adult and pediatric patients with blood cancers and other serious illnesses.

What’s the difference between these two terms? As it turns out, the only real distinction is in the method of collecting the stem cells.

Let’s start with the basics. Read more

Connecting Online With Someone in Your Shoes

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“Stay positive, I know it helps.”

“What steps would you suggest I take to support my dad through all of this?”

“I am a new member of this group.”

These conversations are occurring online, at any time of day, in a community most people would not want to join: A group of cancer patients. Read more

What Evolution Can Teach Us About Cancer

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Like wombats and wildebeests, cancer cells are continually adapting to their environment. If that environment includes drugs meant to kill cancer cells, some cells may adapt so well, they eventually gain the ability to grow and divide in spite of those drugs – a process known as drug resistance. The result can be a resurgence of tumors that once were held in check by treatment.

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