How to Help Patients During the Holidays

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The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends, but the season can bring challenges for cancer patients and those who have recently completed treatment. The stresses of cancer may leave them feeling out of touch or overburdened with traditional holiday responsibilities. If someone you know is in, or has recently completed, treatment for cancer, consider these tips for helping during the holidays. Let the patient take the lead. Some people will want to celebrate the holiday season as they always have, but others may want to step back and be less festive. Even if treatment is over, …

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Five Things Nonsmokers Need to Know About Lung Cancer

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Lung cancer remains the most deadly form of cancer in the United States, with nearly 160,000 deaths annually and more than 224,000 new cases expected in 2014. While many lung cancer diagnoses are linked to smoking, nonsmokers can develop the disease as well and should be aware of their risks. Anyone can get lung cancer. Although smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, anyone with lungs is susceptible to this disease. Air pollution and exposure to asbestos, radon, chromium, nickel, arsenic, soot, or tar are also causes. Individuals who have been treated with radiation therapy to the chest …

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How to Provide Cancer Care When Resources are Scarce

SMALL_Larry Shulman at the entrance to Butaro Hospital in Rwanda.

Is it fair that one person with Hodgkin lymphoma will be cured and another will die, simply because of what part of the world they live in? No, says Lawrence Shulman, MD, Dana-Farber’s director of the Center for Global Medicine and senior oncology advisor to Partners In Health (PIH). Shulman, who recently published his perspective in Nature Reviews Cancer, works with Dana-Farber and its partners Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital to bring cancer care to PIH sites in developing countries. He shares his experience in providing cancer care in Rwanda. Q: What is the difference between providing …

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What’s New in Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment and Research

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Metastatic breast cancer (MBC), also known as stage IV breast cancer or advanced stage breast cancer, ultimately affects approximately 20-25 percent of all people with breast cancer. There is no cure for MBC, but new developments in treatment and research are helping patients live longer and experience a better quality of life. “There are women who live with MBC for many years, often five, ten years or more,” says Eric Winer, MD, director of the Breast Oncology Program in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. “Although some women with metastatic breast cancer still face a shorter …

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Latest Research Shows Progress in Fight Against Lung Cancer

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Lung cancer, which causes more deaths worldwide than any other malignancy, is revealing its vulnerabilities under a sustained assault from science. Many of the most recent advances against the disease have a long pedigree at Dana-Farber. It was 10 years ago, in fact, that Dana-Farber scientists and elsewhere showed non-small cell lung cancers that carry a mutation in the gene EGFR are susceptible to a targeted drug. That discovery, which ushered in the era of personalized medicine for lung cancer, has lengthened the lives of tens of thousands of patients around the world. Today it is a standard procedure in …

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Tackling College, Marathons, and Multiple Myeloma

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By Ethan Hawes “Having cancer in college doesn’t seem real.” That was my first thought when I received what would become life-changing news at the age of 22 as a senior at the University of Maine (Orono). My body went numb and tears started to form when my doctor told me I had multiple myeloma, a rare form of blood cancer predominately found in people over the age of 65. [Less than one percent of multiple myeloma cases are diagnosed in people younger than 35.] On that infamous July day in 2013, I went from a normal college student to …

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From Cancer Patient to Personal Trainer

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In April 2014, John Barrett, a 71-year-old Dana-Farber patient achieved a long-standing goal. He officially became a certified personal trainer. The lifelong exercise enthusiast set out to help cancer patients with their own fitness goals, and after his certification, began an internship with Nancy Campbell, MS, an exercise physiologist in Dana-Farber’s Adult Survivorship Program. He now shadows Campbell on Monday afternoons during patient consultations “It’s really great for patients to hear from John and get his first-hand experience,” she explains. “He helps them stay motivated and consistent.” Barrett always made exercise a mandatory part of his life. Time for running …

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Should Cancer Patients Get the Flu Shot?

Flu shot clinic 2014. Raphael Ceccaldi, Ph.D. getting his flu shot.

The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. But will cancer patients benefit from the flu shot given their immunity and treatment status? It is safe for patients who have not had a stem cell transplant to get the flu shot, and are highly encouraged to ask their providers about their vaccination options. However, those who have had, or who are currently undergoing a stem cell transplant, should take extra precautions. During a transplant, a patient’s immune system is extremely weak. Therefore, each patient has a specific timeframe for when it is best to …

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Five Things You Need to Know About Stomach Cancer

Peter Enzinger, M.D. with a mock patient on Dana 12 in the GI clinical areaSMALL

Although not a common type of cancer in the United States, stomach (gastric) cancer is the second leading cancer death worldwide, and affects more men than women. “The United States’ risk is much less because of hygiene and the safety of foods we eat, and more to do with overall health and genetic predisposition,” explains Peter C. Enzinger, MD, medical director for the Center for Esophageal and Gastric Cancer at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC). As November marks Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, here are some facts about stomach cancer: 1.) What are the risk factors of Stomach Cancer? Although …

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20 Years After BRCA: What We’ve Learned About Genetics and Breast Cancer

Twenty years ago, scientists announced the discovery of BRCA1, which arguably has become the best-known cancer susceptibility gene in the world. When inherited in a mutated form, the gene sharply increases a woman’s chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer, often at an early age. The discovery has changed the way women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer approach these diseases, helping them better understand their risk and the options for reducing it. It also presents them with complex choices about sharing genetic test results with family members who may also carry the mutated gene. The hunt …

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