Archive for Dana-Farber

Alcohol and breast cancer: What’s the risk?

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For many women who enjoy a glass of wine, research showing that relatively small amounts of alcohol can raise their risk of breast cancer are disconcerting, to say the least. And confusing, too.

How much drinking is OK? Isn’t a glass of red wine a day good for your heart — and couldn’t that be more important?

In the past five or 10 years, knowledge about alcohol and breast cancer has been changing as studies produce new results and are publicized, sometimes over-dramatically, in the media. At the same time, there’s growing evidence that moderate drinking can be healthy for the heart.
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From old drugs, new cancer treatments

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When it comes to finding better drugs for cancer, Dana-Farber oncologist Dr. David Frank is not a patient man. While new cancer science promises to bring novel, improved therapies to the bedside, it can take many years — and Frank isn’t willing to wait.

“We need to get new treatments to patients as soon as possible,” he says. Read more

Cancer treatment and fertility: Planning for the future

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Imagine being 22 and having your two biggest fears come true: You have cancer, and your treatment may leave you unable to have children in the future.

While you’re still coming to terms with the diagnosis, you now have to make some major life decisions. Do you want to freeze your eggs? Or should you choose a sperm donor and freeze fertilized eggs instead? Don’t forget to consider your husband’s feelings — even though he isn’t even in your life yet. Read more

Dana-Farber responds to national drug supply issues

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Recent concerns about availability and authenticity of certain drugs have generated news headlines worldwide and raised anxiety levels for some cancer patients and their families.

Sylvia Bartel, RPh, MHP, Dana-Farber’s vice president of Pharmacy, says that although the cause of the two problems is unrelated, it underscores the need for continuous and careful monitoring and management of the Institute’s medications. Read more

How our patients help create a healing environment

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Look closely at some of the steel beams that support Dana-Farber’s Yawkey Center for Cancer Care and you’ll see the names of patients spray-painted in bright colors by ironworkers during the building’s construction.

These beams frame the building, but patients and families have lent far more than their names to the facility’s creation.

Their guidance underpins almost every aspect of the Yawkey Center. From the healing garden to the layout of exam rooms to the parking garage, the imprint of our patients and families is felt across the Institute.

Here, Janet Porter, PhD, chief operating officer, recalls in her own words the benefits of working closely with patients and families. Read more

Why you and your cancer care team are like the Patriots (or Giants)

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The Super Bowl this weekend is the result of a lot of training and planning (and luck) on the part of the two competing teams. Players have to know their roles and everyone needs to work to the same game plan — and be ready to change tactics in an instant.

In the same way, the specialists overseeing your cancer treatment and long-term care have their own areas of expertise, and you’re an important player on the team. Here’s why:

Know your team
Medical oncologists call the plays, determining the best options for treatment and guiding the care team. They work closely with radiation oncologists and surgical oncologists, ensuring that you get the best care, at each step in your treatment plan. Learn about the important players on your cancer care team.

Know your game plan
But when you’re finished with all of your treatment regimens, oncologist appointments, and follow ups, what’s next?

Here’s where you make the call: Ask for an end-of-treatment summary. This is a document that maps out what you and your doctors already know, summarizing your cancer diagnosis and the steps included in your treatment. This information is important because it can help your primary care physician understand your medical history and better map out a plan for the future. Dana-Farber has created a Survivorship Toolkit (PDF) to guide you through the steps.

Avoid incomplete passes
Since your oncologist won’t be regularly involved in your health care once treatment is over, it’s important to bring your primary care doctor up to speed on any follow-up tests or potential long-term side effects that may arise in the future. This will form the basis of your care plan going forward. Learn more about setting up a care plan after cancer treatment.

Focus on the end zone
Making healthy changes in the way you eat, exercise, and live your life won’t necessarily prevent your cancer from coming back, but it can help you feel better and may also lower your chances of developing other health problems in the future. Find out more about creating a wellness plan that works for you.

Do you have a game plan for wellness after treatment? Tell us in the comments!

Genetic counseling now recommended for children with sarcoma

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If your son or daughter has been diagnosed with a type of sarcoma – a tumor in connective tissue like muscles or bones – there are many questions: Will my child make a full recovery? What are the immediate and long-term side effects of treatment?

Most parents don’t consider whether their child will face a second cancer later in life.

However, a link between sarcomas and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare condition that raises a person’s risk of developing one or more cancers to as high as 85 percent, has led genetic specialists at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to recommend that all child sarcoma patients be offered genetic counseling for Li-Fraumeni syndrome.  Read more

How to tell your boss you have cancer

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Part of dealing with a new cancer diagnosis involves deciding how to let those around you know what’s happening. While you’ll probably want your loved ones to know about your diagnosis and treatment, deciding whether to tell your employer can be a more challenging process.

Here are some tips if you’re weighing the decision to share your cancer diagnosis at work.
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Obesity and cancer: What’s the link?

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There are a lot of good reasons not to gain too much weight, but you might not be aware of this one: Growing evidence links obesity to a higher risk of developing cancer, and being overweight may worsen a cancer patient’s outlook.

Although more and more studies are finding this connection, scientists haven’t uncovered the biological mechanisms by which excess pounds make normal cells more likely to turn cancerous. But they are pursuing a large number of leads, some of which may uncover new ways of fighting cancer – including losing weight.

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HPV linked to head and neck cancer

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Traditionally, patients with oral cancers tended to be older individuals with a long history of smoking and heavy alcohol use. In the past decade, however, that picture has changed dramatically.

Today, infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer in the U.S. and Western Europe. Oropharyngeal cancers affect the back of the throat (i.e. the tonsils and base of the tongue). HPV is the same virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer in women.

Patients with HPV-related head and neck cancers are often relatively young, not heavy drinkers or smokers, and come from all segments of society.

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