Shifting from Pediatric to Adult Care: Advice from a Survivor

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By Catherine MacLean The health care transition from pediatric to adult practitioners is an important process for any young adult, but it is especially critical for cancer survivors. Typically, this transition takes place sometime between ages 16 and 21. I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia at age 4 and had a bone marrow transplant at age 10. My shift to adult health care began around the time I was 17 and was completed at about age 21. I am now 23 and in full control of my own health care. From my personal experience, here are some critical pieces of …

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Tips for Recovering from a Hysterectomy

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Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, may be used to treat a variety of gynecologic cancers, including endometrial (uterine), ovarian, or cervical, or gestational trophoblastic  disease. Like any major surgery, recovering from a hysterectomy, which may also include removal of the ovaries, cervix, and fallopian tubes, takes time. Here is some advice from the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber on recovering safely following a hysterectomy. Balance activity with rest. Walking is one of the best ways for the body to recover and heal. Start slow and always listen to your body. You may be more …

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Themed Chemo Visits Help Breast Cancer Patient Cope with Treatment

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Cancer treatment is never fun, but Cheryl St. Onge figures if she has to go through it, she’s doing it with style — and smiles. Each time the breast cancer patient arrives at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center for her infusion visit, she wears a different themed outfit. One time she was a cowgirl with boots, hat, and a fringed vest; another time she came ready for a Hawaiian luau with the appropriate loud shirt and lei. Last month she was a nurse in scrubs. The wardrobes are kept a secret from her caregivers and …

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Should I Take Aspirin to Prevent Cancer?

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A steady drumbeat of research suggest that taking a small dose of daily aspirin over a period of years can reduce the risk of certain cancers. In August, researchers from London’s Queen Mary University concluded that daily aspirin taken over 10 years reduced the risk of developing cancers of the digestive tract – colon, stomach, and esophagus – by as much as 40 percent, and had a lesser impact on the number of lung, breast and prostate cancer diagnoses. The leader of the research – published in the Annals of Oncology,  said “the evidence is that everyone between 50 and …

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Brain Tumor Survivor Shares Her Tips on the College Transition

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By Frannie Palmer As a kid, I stumbled on my feet quite a bit. I had to use two hands on the railing while going down stairs. My parents thought I was just a little clumsy. The truth was, a brain tumor was creating pressure on my cerebellum and causing my incoordination. I was 6-years-old when I had surgery to remove the non-cancerous tumor. It wasn’t until I began applying for early decision admission to Wheaton College that I fully grasped how much it had affected me. After the surgery, I had to re-learn how to walk and talk. My …

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New Drug Combination Shows Promise for Women with Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

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For many women with ovarian cancer that has returned after initial treatment, a two-drug combination can significantly extend the time that the disease is kept in check, according to a phase 2 clinical trial led by investigators at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. As reported in Lancet Oncology, researchers compared the drugs cediranib and olaparib, versus olaparib alone, in their ability to stall the advance of ovarian cancer in women with a recurrent form of the disease that responds to platinum-based chemotherapy agents. The investigators found that the median period before the disease began to …

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Breast Cancer Survivor Barbara Stinson Turns to Nature and Photography

To most people, a flower is just a flower. To 70-year-old Barbara Stinson, flowers represent beauty, energy and positivity. A two-time breast cancer survivor, she has combined her passions of gardening and photography in her new book, “PINK PETALS: A Focus on Healing through a Gallery of Flowers.” Each of the 80 pages of the book features an intimate photograph of a pink flower – a color, she says once was a mere fashion choice, but now has taken on a whole new meaning. Each picture is accompanied by an inspirational passage, which links artistic details of the flower to life …

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What are Merkel Cells?

Because long-term exposure to sunlight is considered a risk factor for Merkel cell carcinoma, it’s important to limit your exposure to UV rays.

Merkel cells are found just below your skin’s surface, on the lowest level of your top layer of skin (the epidermis). Connected to nerve endings associated with the sensation of touch, Merkel cells play a key role in helping us identify fine details and textures by touch. A rare and dangerous form of skin cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma is thought to originate from Merkel cells when they grow out of control. This disease usually appears as a painless skin nodule (lump) that can be skin-colored, red, or violet, most often developing in areas of skin exposed to the …

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Five Things Young Women with Breast Cancer Should Know

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While the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are age 55 or older, about 14,500 women age 45 and younger are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are some facts about breast cancer all young women should know. 1. Genetic testing can help identify women who are at increased risk While all women are at risk for breast cancer, women who have a family history of premenopausal breast or ovarian cancer or a family member with a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are at a higher risk and should speak …

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The Latest in Ovarian Cancer Treatment and Research

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Although ovarian cancer is often difficult to treat, research continues to yield results that are improving outcomes and quality of life for many patients. “Ovarian cancer research and treatment is exciting today because there are so many resources available and we are no longer committed to just the standard chemotherapy,” says Susana Campos, MD, MPH, a gynecologic oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. “People can really have fruitful lives even if they are living with ovarian cancer.” Campos recently joined fellow gynecologic oncologist Panos Konstantinopoulos, MD, PhD, for a live video webchat led by …

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