Avastin Helps Patients with Glioblastomas, Doctors Say

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.

What You Should Know about Palliative Care

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.

Why It’s Important to See a Specialist

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.

Classes Help Survivors Move Beyond Cancer

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.

Improving Care for Brain Tumor Patients

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.

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

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.

Should Boys and Girls Be Vaccinated Against HPV?

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.

Fertility Treatment and Cancer: Is There a Link?

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.