Avastin Helps Patients with Glioblastomas, Doctors Say

The drug Avastin, when added to initial therapy for glioblastoma, can give patients a few extra months’ reprieve before their brain tumors start growing again, but does it make their quality of life better – or worse? That’s a matter of heated debate for doctors – and confusion for patients – after two large clinical trials reported conflicting results at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in June. Some experts contend that Avastin lacked sufficient benefit for use as an “upfront” treatment for glioblastomas – the most common and aggressive brain tumors.

Why It’s Important to See a Specialist

By Leonard Ansin In January 2012, my wife and I had left Boston to spend a few months in sunny Florida. We had just passed Orlando when my cell phone rang. It was my primary care physician calling to tell me she was concerned that my PSA  was elevated to 6, which showed that I did have a problem with my prostate. This is where it all started.

What’s the Difference Between Cancer Grade and Cancer Stage?

When solid tumors are diagnosed, they are often assigned a grade and a stage. The grade of a tumor is an indication of how quickly it is likely to grow and spread. In general, low-grade tumors grow slowly and higher-grade tumors grow more rapidly. Tumors are assigned a grade based on the appearance of their cells under a microscope: Low-grade tumor cells resemble normal cells more closely than high-grade tumor cells do.

Should Boys and Girls Be Vaccinated Against HPV?

By Robert Haddad, MD Human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccinations were originally advised only for girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Pediatrics now recommend that both girls and boys be vaccinated. The recommendations are well founded: HPV infection is the number one cause of oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the middle part of the throat and is diagnosed in about 14,000 Americans each year. Men are three times more likely than women to develop oropharyngeal cancers linked to HPV.

Facing First-Time Parenthood… and Cancer

By Lyndsay McCaffery The first year of your baby’s life is special. They come home to you this eating, pooping, screaming machine and twelve months later they are their own walking and babbling little person. It is a year to truly cherish because you realize what parents mean when they say, “they grow up so fast.”  Well, my baby’s year is going by incredibly fast. He is a crawling, smiling, happy boy. Meanwhile, I feel I have hardly moved at all. A shocking diagnosis interfered with what was supposed to be the happiest time in my life. What do you …

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Meet Boston Marathon Runner and Platelet Donor Wendy Akeson

By Saul Wisnia Wendy Akeson is passionate about both running and donating platelets. Never has she felt such a strong connection between these two roles as she did this year. Four minutes after completing her 10th consecutive Boston Marathon, Akeson heard the explosions that will forever link this year’s marathon with tragedy – and then saw people running toward her from the finish line she had just crossed.

How to Enjoy Summer without Raising Your Cancer Risk

by Joanna Steere As summer takes hold, it’s often hard to resist the delicious aroma of a backyard barbecue or soaking in some rays at the beach. However, it’s important to know the health risks associated with these common activities, especially when cancer’s involved.

What Are Common Brain Tumor Symptoms?

by Richard Saltus People experiencing an unusual or particularly bad headache sometimes worry they might have a brain tumor. Headaches are very common and usually don’t signal a serious illness – but when should you be checked out by a doctor? We asked neuro-oncologists Lakshmi Nayak, MD, and Eudocia Quant Lee, MD, MPH from the Dana-Farber Center for Neuro-Oncology to review the red flags that warrant a medical follow up:

Genetic Testing, Cancer Risk, and Angelina Jolie’s Choice

Actress Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the headlines, but she stunned the world with her Op-Ed in The New York Times, in which she shared her very private decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. “I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” wrote Jolie. “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness.” But for Jolie, and many others, getting genetic testing and taking action may offer control and comfort. How do you know if genetic testing is right for you? …

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Expecting a Baby—Not Cancer

Editor’s Note: This is the second in our series of stories celebrating Moms this Mother’s Day weekend. Yesterday, Michelle Maloney shared her story. Today, it’s Allison Bellevue’s turn. By Christine Triantos In one whirlwind year, Allison Bellevue moved to Boston, started a new job, met her future husband, and discovered she was pregnant. Compared to what followed, that year was a breeze. When Bellevue, now 31, went for her first fetal ultrasound, doctors noticed a small mass on her right ovary. They told her it was likely a cyst, and they would keep an eye on it over time.