Archive for Dana-Farber

What Are Common Brain Tumor Symptoms?

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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:

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

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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? Judy Garber, MD, MPH, is director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and one of the leaders of the Institute’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. She talks about the BRCA test, family history and cancer risk, and preventive options for breast and ovarian cancer.

 

 

The Dana-Farber Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program offers advanced genetic tests to determine risk, as well as counseling and education, once the results are determined.

If you have a question about genetic factors that increase cancer risk, you can ask the Dana-Farber cancer genetics team.

 

 

Expecting a Baby—Not Cancer

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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.

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Mom, cancer survivor has ‘a lot to celebrate’ this Mother’s Day

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Editor’s Note: This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day with two inspiring stories of Moms whose cancer diagnoses came while they were pregnant. Today, Michelle Maloney shares her story.

By Naomi Funkhouser

On a cold October evening, Michelle Maloney braced herself against the night chill. As she hugged herself in bed, she felt a lump in her right breast. The next morning, Maloney scheduled an appointment with her primary care physician, who asked if she could be pregnant.

“Anything is possible,” said Maloney. Read more

Who should have PSA testing for prostate cancer?

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Millions of men each year have their blood tested for prostate specific antigen, or PSA, a normal protein whose levels may be elevated in men with prostate cancer or other benign diseases of the prostate.

However, experts have disagreed on who should be tested, when and how frequently. Some are concerned about whether the benefits outweigh the risks of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. In fact, a federal advisory task force in 2012 recommended against routine PSA testing for healthy men – though many physicians disagreed.

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How to Find Good Cancer Information Online

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For many cancer patients, the Internet serves as a vital tool used to stay in touch with loved ones during treatment, find comfort and advice from other patients and caregivers, or even research clinical trials. But using the Web to learn more about a cancer diagnosis or potential treatments requires a healthy dose of caution. For all of its many benefits, the Internet used unwisely can lead to scams and misinformation, as well.

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Are Tanning Beds Safe?

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If you’re thinking about hitting the tanning beds to get started on your “base tan,” don’t. That’s the advice of Jennifer Y Lin, MD, of Dana-Farber’s Center for Melanoma Oncology.

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Five Reasons for Optimism about Pediatric Cancer Care and Research

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By Stephen Sallan, MD

Today, three quarters or more of all childhood cancer patients will be cured of their disease, a higher percentage than ever before. And the numbers will only get better as we learn more about the biology of childhood cancers and develop new ways of treating them.

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Can Acupuncture Ease Cancer Symptoms?

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by Richard Saltus

One of the oldest healing practices in the world, acupuncture is beginning to have a role in alleviating pain and discomfort associated with cancer and its treatments. Acupuncturists use fine needles to penetrate the skin and stimulate – manually or electrically – specific points on the body.

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Turning Traditional Medicine Into Cancer Drugs

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Quite a few substances used in traditional medicine in China or other countries have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval as cancer drugs… and their numbers are growing.  Some examples are:

Arsenic trioxide, made from arsenic sulfide ore, has been used therapeutically for more than 2,400 years. Following promising reports from China, the agent was tested in clinical trials and received FDA approval in 2000 for patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia who have not responded to other therapies or whose disease has recurred.

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