Common Myths About the HPV Vaccine

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When it comes to vaccines, particularly the HPV vaccine, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that girls and boys aged 11 or 12 years be vaccinated against HPV, the human papillomavirus, which can be spread during sexual activity and can cause cervical cancer in women and cancers of the genital and throat regions in both sexes. The two available HPV vaccines – Cervarix and Gardasil – protect against most of the cancers caused by HPV infection (Gardasil is used only in males). Here are some common myths and misconceptions …

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A Teen’s Journey: Developing a Diagnostic Test for Pancreatic Cancer

Jack Andraka

This post was originally written and published on Vector, Boston Children’s Hospital’s science and clinical innovation blog.  At age 13, Jack Andraka lost a family friend to pancreatic cancer. At age 15, he developed a diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that early findings suggest is highly accurate. In this session from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards 2014, Andraka describes his journey, the Johns Hopkins professor who took him on, his fascination with carbon nanotubes and how open access to scientific journals can help people around the world create solutions to problems. The diagnostic itself is in the early phases of testing. …

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New Immunotherapy Vaccines Show Promise in Treating Brain Tumors

David Reardon, brain tumors

Researchers in Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology are now launching attacks on glioblastomas from a new angle – by turning the patient’s immune system against the cancer cells. Where targeted chemotherapy uses drugs to disable proteins that cancer cells need to grow, immunotherapy drugs stimulate the patient’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. Traditional drugs and even targeted chemotherapy agents have had little success in treating glioblastoma – the deadliest type of brain tumor. “Immunotherapy represents a great hope for patients currently facing this disease,” says David Reardon, MD, clinical director of the Center.  “We’re anxious to move this approach …

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Can Cancer Survivors Donate Blood or Platelets?

SMALL_Bloodmobile at Copley Square.

Blood products like whole blood and platelets are lifesaving for cancer patients at Dana-Farber and elsewhere. It comes as no surprise, then, that many cancer survivors want to return the favor by donating at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center, which collects blood products to benefit patients at both Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Survivors of solid tumor cancers are eligible to donate blood and platelets beginning one year after they stop taking medication for their cancer; however, survivors of blood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma, and other blood disorders, are permanently deferred due to the nature of their …

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How Integrative Therapies Can Help Lung Cancer Patients

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Any cancer diagnosis and treatment can take a physical and emotional toll on patient. For many lung cancer patients, post-operative pain and muscle tension, as well as breathing and sleeping issues, are common side effects. To help ease some of these symptoms, patients can seek out integrative therapies, which can be used in conjunction with standard treatment. “Patients who participate in integrative therapies may experience fewer side effects of treatment and therefore, have a better quality of life,” says Bambi Mathay, MD, LMT, oncology massage therapist and reiki master practitioner at Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. Lung cancer …

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How Her ‘Cancer Family’ Helped One Young Adult Through Treatment

young adult cancer, lymphoma

By Christina Dixon Cancer turned my world upside-down overnight. I had just graduated from college, moved to Boston after finishing undergrad at Washington and Lee in Virginia, and started my dream job on an interest rate derivatives sales desk.  Suddenly, instead of working, spending time with my friends, and playing sports, my life was filled with PET scans, chemotherapy, and pain management to treat stage IVB Hodgkin lymphoma. I was just 22 and facing my mortality in a very real way. From the very beginning, I decided I wanted as much good as possible to come from cancer. I did not want to …

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Lou Dittami, Lover of Platelets and Patriots, Honored for 600 Donations

By this time of year, most New England Patriots football fans are familiar with head coach Bill Belichick’s style of avoiding all talk of championships to focus solely on his team’s next opponent. The same words could ring true for Patriots fan Lou Dittami – who recently passed his 600th  bi-weekly platelet donation at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I’m not worried about passing 600, only about the donation I have coming up,” says Dittami in true Belichick fashion. “That’s the one that could save a patient.” Given his devotion …

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New Year Brings New Hope for Young Violinist with Brain Tumor

On December 5, just after the students of Carolyn Bever’s Violin Studio finish playing “The First Noel” for the residents of the Pines Senior Living Community in South Burlington, Vermont, 9-year-old Sophie Fellows quietly leaves the stage because of a headache. The next day she is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the following day she travels by ambulance from the University of Vermont Medical Center to Boston Children’s Hospital. “Christmas concerts are my most favorite part of violin,” Sophie says. “I felt really bad that I couldn’t finish the concert.” The day before Sophie’s surgery, something very special happens. …

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Five Tips for Staying Active this Winter

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Staying active during the winter months can be difficult. Weather, packed holiday schedules, and fewer daylight hours can often get in the way of a regular fitness routine. For some cancer patients, lack of energy and a weakened immune system can also make it difficult to leave the house and stay active. But staying in shape doesn’t always have to mean heading to the gym or a fitness class. There are many exercises that can be done at home and adjusted to fit any skill or strength level. Nancy Campbell, MS, an exercise physiologist with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, provides tips …

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Girls Fight Cancer with Glitz and Glamour

For 24 young girls, a recent getaway weekend replaced exam rooms with dressing rooms, hospital bracelets with stylish bangles, and MRI images with professional photographs. Every year, teenagers and young women ages 13-23, who are being treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, go on a “Girls Weekend” in Boston. The weekend includes a musical, a makeover, shopping, and more.