Archive for October 30, 2013

Can Acupuncture Benefit Breast Cancer Patients?

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By Robert Foley

Increasing evidence through research at Dana-Farber and elsewhere supports the use of acupuncture as a remedy for some of the symptoms breast cancer patients experience. This integrative therapy can be used in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy. Read more

Infographic: Breast Cancer and Genetics

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, but only 5-10 percent of breast cancer cases are hereditary. Of those cases, roughly 20-25 percent are linked to mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (BRCA stands for BReast CAncer susceptibility).

View the infographic below for more on the genetics of breast cancer.

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How to Care for Your Central Line at Home

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Cancer or blood disorder patients may have central lines, which make it easier to receive certain medications (such as chemotherapy) and have blood tests. The major types of central lines include Port-A-Cath, Hickman, and peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). Patients receiving stem cell transplants sometimes have central lines.

If you have a central line, you may need to care for it at home. Or you may need guidance in caring for a loved one with a central line. Knowing the correct procedures is essential to preventing infection. Read more

How to Prepare for Your First Visit with a Cancer Specialist

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By Karen Lee Sobol

I used to think of hospitals as halls of science. But recently I learned the word “clinic” comes from the Greek, meaning “bedside art.” While we’d all rather avoid a visit to a cancer clinic, there’s a lot we can do to make the first visit a productive, positive experience.

For my first visit to Dana-Farber, my husband joined me, along with my own wild emotions—anxiety, fear, and fury among them—and four pages of questions.

I found that at that first visit, an oncologist gets to know you in two ways: clinically and personally.

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Easing the Way for Cancer Patients with Other Hardships

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By Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH

When cancer strikes someone who is already facing other hardships – for example, he or she is poor, alone, or has a language barrier – the experience is very different than it might be for someone who has more resources and support.

The Cancer Care Equity Program at Dana-Farber, which is funded by the Kraft Family Foundation, helps vulnerable patients in the community obtain the cancer care they might not receive otherwise. Read more

Video: Nearly 100 Patients Inspire Others with Stories of Hope

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Each year, Dana-Farber patients join clinicians, staff, and the Boston Red Sox to share their stories of inspiration and their belief in the research advances at Dana-Farber during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon at Fenway Park.

This year, nearly 100 patients, including Rayquan Fregeau, who used art and resources from the Betty Ann Blum and Marjorie Blum Pediatric Resource Room to cope with his diagnosis; Debbie Whitmore, a mother of five who hopes for a cure for future generations; and Jack Robinson, who compiled a joke book to help other children during their treatment, shared their experiences battling cancer. Stephen Hodi, MD, Ursula Matulonis, MD, and other clinicians discussed the research and treatment strides donors help make possible.

Watch this video of highlights from the 36-hour event, which raised more than $3.5 million to support adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber:

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New Statues Celebrate Sidney Farber, MD, and “Jimmy”

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund have long been connected with baseball. So it’s only fitting that the new statues of Dana-Farber founder Sidney Farber, MD, and 12-year-old Einar Gustafson, one of his early patients, reflect this historic relationship.

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Ask the Expert: Questions and Answers about Brain Tumors

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Lakshmi Nayak, MD, with Dana-Farber's Center for Neuro-Oncology

Lakshmi Nayak, MD

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recently partnered with CancerConnect and Lakshmi Nayak, MD, to answer questions about brain cancer. Nayak is a neuro-oncologist in the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School. 

Q: There seems to be some progress concerning treatment of brain tumors, especially immunotherapy. Do you think we will see further advancements in that area, or in other areas?

A: Immunotherapy is indeed a hot topic in gliomas. This is largely driven by advances we have seen in the treatment of melanoma. The way these drugs work is to release inhibition of the immune system so the immune cells can recognize cancer cells and attack the tumor. These advances are promising, and we hope this avenue of research will soon extend to gliomas. Development of trials in this direction is currently underway, and we anticipate the trials will open within the year or so.

In the last few years, we have seen a significant amount of progress in understanding glioma biology, including the mechanisms of tumor growth and resistance to treatments. Current research is focusing on treatment targeting specific pathways. It is difficult to envision which specific pathway or target will reveal the answer. It may be a combination of a few different targeted therapies, rather than one approach.

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College and Cancer: Tips from a Student Survivor

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By Catherine MacLean

“Why is this coming up now?”

“It’s been 10 years. I should be over this already.”

“Why is this happening to me? All of the other survivors I know seem fine.”

These thoughts preoccupied me during the transition from high school to college. It had been 10 years since my successful bone marrow transplant for aplastic anemia and my health was excellent. Read more

Four Simple Tips for Eating Healthy

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By Robert Foley

There is a vast amount of information available on nutrition and how to live a healthy lifestyle, but according to Dana-Farber Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, “the best approach is to start small.”

“When it comes to nutrition, small changes can make a big difference,” Kennedy says.

One of those changes can be as simple as eating an extra piece of fruit every day. In a recent study, done by the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow, Poland, men and women who ate two or more apples a day reduced their risk of colon cancer by 50 percent. That extra apple a day also helped decrease pancreatic cancer by 25 percent, the study said.

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