Archive for June 28, 2013

Avastin Helps Patients with Glioblastomas, Doctors Say

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The drug Avastin, when added to initial therapy for glioblastoma, can give patients a few extra months’ reprieve before their brain tumors start growing again, but does it make their quality of life better – or worse?

That’s a matter of heated debate for doctors – and confusion for patients – after two large clinical trials reported conflicting results at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in June. Some experts contend that Avastin lacked sufficient benefit for use as an “upfront” treatment for glioblastomas – the most common and aggressive brain tumors.

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Ovarian Cancer: Seven Terms You Should Know

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By Melanie Graham

A diagnosis of ovarian cancer can raise a lot of questions. It can also raise many new medical terms, which your doctor or a member of your care team can explain. Here are a few terms to know.

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What You Should Know about Palliative Care

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By Eric Schuller

Palliative care is often misunderstood. People may associate it with end-of-life care or “giving up” – especially when facing a serious health challenge like cancer. But palliative care may not be what you think, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. Here’s a closer look at what palliative care is – and isn’t. Read more

Why It’s Important to See a Specialist

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By Leonard Ansin

In January 2012, my wife and I had left Boston to spend a few months in sunny Florida. We had just passed Orlando when my cell phone rang. It was my primary care physician calling to tell me she was concerned that my PSA  was elevated to 6, which showed that I did have a problem with my prostate.

This is where it all started.

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Classes Help Survivors Move Beyond Cancer

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Dana-Farber celebrates cancer survivorship in June with Living Proof, an annual series of events that includes workshops and programs as well as a keynote reception on June 20.

The end of treatment is an important milestone for any cancer patient, but it can also be a time of anxiety. In fact, some new cancer survivors say leaving the routine of regular visits with their health care team can be downright scary. That’s why Dana-Farber and other leading cancer centers offer programs to help survivors transition from active treatment to living well beyond cancer. Read more

Improving Care for Brain Tumor Patients

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By Patrick Y. Wen, MD and David Reardon, MD

Highly malignant brain tumors called glioblastomas are the most common primary cancer of the brain; about 11,000 cases are diagnosed every year in the United States. Patrick Y. Wen, MD (Director) and David Reardon, MD, (Medical Director) of the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center describe the efforts to improve care for these patients.

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What’s the Difference Between Cancer Grade and Cancer Stage?

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When solid tumors are diagnosed, they are often assigned a grade and a stage. The grade of a tumor is an indication of how quickly it is likely to grow and spread. In general, low-grade tumors grow slowly and higher-grade tumors grow more rapidly. Tumors are assigned a grade based on the appearance of their cells under a microscope: Low-grade tumor cells resemble normal cells more closely than high-grade tumor cells do. Read more

Clinical Trials for Cancer Patients

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By Ian Krop, MD, PhD

Clinical trials are scientific studies in which new treatments – drugs, diagnostic procedures, and other therapies – are tested in people to find out if they are safe and effective. Nearly all cancer drugs in use today were tested in clinical trials. Read more

Should Boys and Girls Be Vaccinated Against HPV?

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By Robert Haddad, MD

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccinations were originally advised only for girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Pediatrics now recommend that both girls and boys be vaccinated. The recommendations are well founded: HPV infection is the number one cause of oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the middle part of the throat and is diagnosed in about 14,000 Americans each year. Men are three times more likely than women to develop oropharyngeal cancers linked to HPV.

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Fertility Treatment and Cancer: Is There a Link?

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By Wendy Chen, MD
Dana-Farber Breast Oncology Center
Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers

Millions of women in the United States have sought treatment for fertility-related problems over the past 35 years. Because many of these treatments –including fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization (IVF) – use hormones to stimulate ovulation, researchers have explored whether such therapies might increase the risk of breast or ovarian cancer.

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