Explaining the Complexities of Cancer

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This post originally appeared on Cancer Research Catalyst, the official blog of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).  Burgeoning understanding of the biology of cancer has led to advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment. These advances mean that a person diagnosed with cancer in the United States today has a greater chance of surviving their diagnosis than ever before. Despite the tremendous advances, almost 600,000 people in the United States are expected to die from cancer this year alone. We asked Eric Winer, MD, chief of the Division of Women’s Cancers and director of the Breast Oncology …

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Can Kids Get Melanoma? What Parents Need to Know

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Although melanoma is more commonly found in adults, childhood and adolescent melanoma affects approximately 300 children in the U.S. each year. Thankfully, the incidence rate has started to decrease in recent years. While melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer in adults, skin cancer in children is almost always melanoma. The biggest increase in melanoma incidences has been in girls ages 15-19, possibly because girls are more likely than boys to sunbathe and use tanning beds. Because melanoma often appears differently in children than in adults, doctors and parents sometimes overlook it or misdiagnose it as a different skin …

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How a Cure for Hodgkin Lymphoma Changed the Course of Cancer Treatment

ASCO, George Canellos, Hodgkiin lymphoma

To mark its 50th anniversary, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) invited physicians, patients, and the public to name the most important advances in clinical cancer research in the past half century. From more than 2,000 responses, the top choice was a cure for advanced Hodgkin lymphoma developed by scientists at the National Cancer Institute in the mid-1960s. The treatment used a combination of chemotherapy agents known by the acronym MOPP and represented the first time that combination chemotherapy had cured a non-leukemic solid tumor in adults. Its success led to the development of other combinations of chemotherapy drugs …

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What Are the Differences Between Adult and Childhood Brain Tumors?

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Brain tumors are relatively rare for people of any age, but they can occur in both children and adults. In fact, tumors of the spinal cord and brain are the second most common types of cancer in children, after leukemia. But there are some key differences between brain tumors that occur in adults and those in children. “Compared to adults, children are more likely to develop tumors in the lower parts of the brain – the brain stem and cerebellum – which are areas that affect movement and coordination,” says Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, director of Pediatric Medical Neuro-Oncology at …

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Does Elevation Increase Risk for Skin Cancer?

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One of the most common questions asked about skin cancer risk, particularly by those who ski or hike, is whether altitude can increase the chance of developing skin cancer, specifically melanoma. We spoke with Jennifer Lin, MD, a dermatologist in Dana-Farber’s Melanoma Treatment Center, to learn more. Elevation does affect the risk of skin cancer because the higher the elevation, the more sunlight – including ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer – reaches the ground, Lin says. Technically, the higher you are, the closer you are to the sun, with fewer protective layers of atmosphere above you. Colorado, for …

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Creating a Legacy with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Creating a legacy with metastatic breast cancer

This post originally appeared on Critical Mass as part of the 2015 National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. By Beth Fairchild My name is Beth Fairchild. In my former life, I was an artist, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend. Now, while I may still be all of these, I have added fearless fighter and breast cancer advocate to the list of things that make me, me. This is my new, cancer life. A year ago my life was pretty normal. My husband and I were successful business owners. We were raising our daughter and preparing to adopt another. I …

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New Research Brings Better Understanding of Brain Tumors, Treatment Advances

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Brain cancer takes a variety of forms – and research to better understand and treat it is progressing on a variety of fronts. One area of focus is the tumor microenvironment the skein of tissues and blood vessels that feed and support a tumor. Researchers are exploring how newly formed brain tumors interact with surrounding cells to turn those cells into aiders and abetters of tumor growth. They’re particularly interested in how brain tumors tap into the body’s blood supply to draw in nutrients. Understanding these processes is a critical first step to devising therapies that prevent tumors from exploiting …

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Young Patients’ Artwork Shows Creativity and Courage

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The artist Henri Matisse once said, “creativity takes courage.” So does facing cancer as a child. Cancer, creativity and courage merged at a recent exhibit of art by patients of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. The artwork was created during the FACES (Feeling Accepted, Confident, Empowered and Strong) and FLASHES (Filming Life and Sharing Hope, Encouragement and Strength) support groups, which provide Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s patients with socialization, discussion and expression through art. Here is a sampling of the patients’ work and what they say about it: Cassandra Crowley, 20, of Arlington, Massachusetts Lymphoma, stem cell transplant Paintings “I wanted …

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The Science of PD-1 and Immunotherapy

The science of PD-1 and immunotherapy

This is a story about the velocity of an idea – a discovery whose potential to improve cancer treatment practically leapt from the test tube. The groundwork was laid in the 1990s, when scientists learned that human cells carry certain proteins on their surface that enable them to escape attack from the body’s immune system. That was followed by the discovery by Dana-Farber scientists that many cancer cells wear one of those same proteins, called PD-L1 – part of an elaborate masquerade that allows the cancer cells to live and multiply without harrassment from the immune system. The implications of …

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Does Sugar Feed Cancer?

Does sugar feed cancer?

By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD One of the most common questions we hear from our patients is, “does sugar feed cancer?”  As with most nutrition research, the answer to this seemingly simple question is actually quite complex. Overall, most of the research in sugar and cancer uses data from preliminary studies with animal and test tube data to draw conclusions. Recent research has looked at the details of an individual’s diet and sugar intake and how it may affect cancer risk or survivorship outcomes, but there have not been any randomized, controlled trials showing that sugar causes cancer. Let’s look …

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