Four Lessons from a Cancer Caregiver

By Patrick Palmer In June 2001, my wife, Angela Palmer, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer while we were living in Tucson, Arizona. This was a huge shock. She had annual mammograms and never had any indications of disease. She had a lumpectomy and completed about 50 percent of her chemotherapy protocol before we moved to the northeast where our family was located. We arrived in Boston in December 2001, bought a house and became engaged with a tremendous Dana-Farber team including Wendy Chen, MD, MPH, medical oncologist and Jennifer Bellon, MD, radiation oncologist. Angela immediately resumed her therapy …

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Giving Platelets – and Hope – to Cancer Patients

Ninety minutes. That’s all it takes to save a life when you donate platelets at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. For Baila Janock, these 90 minutes are practically a weekly occurrence since her late husband Irving Janock was treated for pancreatic cancer at Dana-Farber in the mid-1980s. Last summer, after more than 30 years of volunteering at Dana-Farber and making more than 200 platelet donations, Janock joined “Team 20” yet again – an honor bestowed upon donors who give platelets more than 20 times in a year.

Thyroid Cancer: Five Things You Need to Know

By Melanie Graham Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. Found more often in women, the National Cancer Institute estimates 60,022 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013. Like most forms of cancer, thyroid cancer can be broken down into several different types or subgroups, says Jochen Lorch, MD, an oncologist with Dana-Farber’s Head and Neck Cancer Treatment Center. Most types of thyroid cancer are treatable and in some cases, curable, Lorch says.

How to Tell Your Children You Have Cancer

by Richard Saltus For many parents, their first concern after a cancer diagnosis is the impact it will have on their children. There’s a lot of medical information to digest and decisions to be made, including how and when to tell your children. There are good reasons talk to your children as soon as possible after your diagnosis. No matter their age, children will realize something is wrong; they may discover the truth accidentally from someone else, and it’s better if you can present the information in an honest and hopeful manner.

One Year After My Stem Cell Transplant — What I’ve Learned

by Martha Laperle When my son Ryan ran the Boston Marathon this year, I watched him with a special level of pride. Not only had he completed his first-ever marathon in four hours, but he was running, in large part, because of me. Just over a year earlier, at the age of 57, I had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a diagnosis that turned my life upside down and led to weeks of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC). Ryan was running to raise funds for the …

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Is a Preventive Mastectomy the Right Choice For You?

Does having cancer in one breast increase the risk of cancer occurring in the other, healthy breast? Young women with breast cancer often respond with a “yes” and overestimate the need to have the healthy breast surgically removed, according to a recent study by Dana-Farber investigators. However, the actual risk of cancer occurring in the healthy breast of those women without a genetic predisposition to breast cancer is only two to four percent.

What is Personalized Medicine?

By Richard Saltus Physicians have long recognized that the same disease can behave differently from one patient to another, and that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. In cancer, chemotherapy might dramatically shrink one lung tumor but prove ineffective against the same type of tumor in a different patient – even though tissue samples look identical under the microscope. Side effects and appropriate dosage may vary from patient to patient as well. The goal of personalized medicine is to match a treatment to the unique characteristics of an individual patient: his or her personal and family medical history, age, body size, and …

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Drinking in Early Adulthood Can Increase Breast Cancer Risk

Women who believe that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol won’t increase their risk of breast cancer may want to think again. Last year, Wendy Chen, MD, of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber and her colleagues published a study showing that women who drank as little as three to six glasses of wine or other alcoholic beverages a week increased their breast cancer risk by about 15 percent.

Six Important Questions About Childhood Cancer

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We asked Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, to answer these important questions. What signs might lead a child’s pediatrician to suspect cancer? Cancer is very diverse, and diagnosis is further complicated because many signs and symptoms—like fever, bruising and headaches—are normal in healthy children.

Ask the Expert: Questions and Answers about Ovarian Cancer

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recently partnered with CancerConnect and Ursula Matulonis, MD, to answer questions about ovarian cancer. Experts in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers offer the latest research and treatment for this type of cancer. Watch one patient’s story. Q: Is taking curcumin recommended to prevent ovarian cancer from returning? Do you have any other suggestions for preventing recurrence?