Tom Brokaw: What It Means to Have Cancer

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Tom Brokaw (left) meets with Dana-Farber President and CEO Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD. The world is divided between those who are sympathetic to their friends and family who have cancer and those who have cancer and are empathetic with each other, says Tom Brokaw, the former “NBC Nightly News” anchor. Brokaw, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, shares his cancer story in the video below. Read more: What is Multiple Myeloma? A History of Multiple Myeloma Advances He advises new patients to be wary of Google searches, praises the work of cancer researchers, and recounts the …

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How a Navy SEAL Veteran Helps Kids with Cancer

Adam LaReau has seen courage. The 34-year-old Navy SEAL combat veteran spent 11 years serving his country, and has seen courage in the actions of his fellow SEALS and through the children of fallen comrades who must learn to grow up without their fathers. Now living in Boston, LaReau has found a way to channel these two examples of bravery. Through a nonprofit program he started called One Summit, he is pairing up SEALS with young cancer patients from Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and other hospitals for a day of indoor rock climbing activities in which confidence …

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How Does Chemotherapy Work?

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More than half of all people with cancer will get chemotherapy – powerful drugs that kill cancer cells to cure the disease, slow its growth, or reduce its symptoms. There are more than 100 different drugs used in chemotherapy, sometimes alone, but more often in combinations that have proven effective against specific types of cancer. Though traditionally given by injection or intravenous infusion, chemotherapy drugs are increasingly available as pills or liquids that patients can take at home (oral chemotherapy). Administered prior to surgery, chemotherapy may make a tumor smaller and easier to remove. Chemotherapy is often given as an …

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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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What is Liposarcoma?

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Cancers known as sarcomas develop in the connective tissues, such as muscle, fat, and bone, that hold the body together. The type of sarcoma diagnosed in Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, liposarcoma, originates in fat cells that have been driven by random DNA errors into malignant growth, forming tumors. George Demetri, MD, Director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology, notes that while sarcomas are not a common form of cancer, they are not rare: about 10,000 sarcoma cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Liposarcomas, which most often affect middle-age and older adults, develop as large, bulky …

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New Immunotherapy Drug for Melanoma Wins Approval

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The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new type of  immunotherapy drug that will provide a much-needed option for patients with advanced or inoperable melanoma who no longer respond to other drugs – including the immunotherapy agent ipilimumab (Yervoy). The drug, pembrolizumab or MK-3745, will be marketed under the name  Keytruda. Based on impressive performance in clinical trials, the FDA had designated pembrolizumab a “breakthrough therapy” and placed it on a fast-tracked approval process. “This drug is exciting because of its really striking response rate and good indications that these responses are durable” for a least a year, says Patrick Ott, MD, PhD, clinical …

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Dentist Brings a Smile to Transplant Patients

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Like many family members of cancer patients, Stephen Matarazzo, DMD, wanted a meaningful way to thank the Dana-Farber caregivers who saved his son Michael’s life. What he came up with involved offering his own professional expertise to protect the smiles of others. A dentist based in Quincy, Mass., Matarazzo provides pro bono dental exams and services to cancer and benign hematology patients who, like his son did, need stem cell transplants. Dental visits are critical transplants suppress the immune system, and patients are at significant risk for developing infections – in some cases life-threatening ones. The oral cavity and teeth …

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Five Things You Need to Know About Cancer Genetics

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Although most cancers are sporadic or occur by chance, a small percentage are due to inherited genetic (or germline) mutations, which can often be identified through genetic testing.  These mutations are different from somatic mutations, which are not inherited, but occur during one’s lifetime. Profile, a research project launched by Dana-Farber and Briigham and Women’s Hospital, has been analyzing DNA from tumor tissue since 2011 to learn more about how somatic mutations drive cancer. “Depending on family and personal history, we can test for genes that confer an increased risk for developing cancer,” says Huma Q. Rana, MD, clinical director for …

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Facts About Throat Cancer

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Throat cancer is one of many cancers that affect the head and neck area, including the nasopharynx, the area of the throat behind the nose; the oropharynx, middle part of the throat; the hypopharynx, the bottom section of the throat; the oral cavity where the tongue sits; and the larynx, the area of the throat used for speaking . While cancers in this region can be painful and complex, the majority of patients, 65-80 percent, survive, according to Robert Haddad, MD. “Treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach, with a supportive care team including nutritionists, speech language pathologists, oral medicine experts, social …

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