Why the Pan-Mass Challenge Is My Kinetic Karma

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By Dave Lafreniere I rode in my first Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) the day after my mother died. She was a two-time breast cancer survivor who developed an unrelated, rare ocular melanoma while I was training. She passed away in the early morning of August 2, 2002, as I sat by and held her hand. After feeling her heart beat its last, I picked up my bike and headed out to the Wellesley starting line. Getting through that first PMC was much easier than I expected. I was alone, I was grieving, but once I got on the road people were …

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What Is the Link Between Diet and Melanoma?

By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD When it comes to sun safety, lathering on sunscreen, sporting broad-brimmed hats and staying in the shade surely come to mind. But diet may also play a key role in the prevention of skin cancer and melanoma. Here is some information on the emerging research around obesity, antioxidant intake, vitamin D and other potential nutrition-related links to melanoma. Obesity & Melanoma At any age, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important strategies for cancer prevention, including melanoma. While there have not been many in-depth studies on the topic, obesity is emerging as …

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Science Illustrated: How Is Immunotherapy Used to Fight Cancer?

Immunotherapy, including the vitally important discovery of PD-1/PD-L1, is one of the most promising areas of cancer research today. One immunotherapy strategy  is to use checkpoint inhibitors to “take the brakes off” the immune system and unleash an attack on cancer cells. Learn about PD-1 and PD-L1, and how immunotherapy can be used fight cancer:

Do Childhood Cancer Survivors Have a Higher Risk of Developing Cancer Later in Life?

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During cancer treatment, patients are often focused on just one thing: getting healthy. But for survivors, particularly of childhood cancer, it’s also important to learn about staying healthy after treatment, including prevention of new cancers that may occur later in life. We spoke with Lynda Vrooman, MD, associate medical director of the David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center: Do childhood cancer survivors have an increased risk for developing a second cancer later in life (not just a recurrence)?  There are many factors that need to be taken into account when …

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Metastatic Breast Cancer Patient Keeps on Riding

Every day, Pat Hastings is in the barn by 5 a.m. As steward of the Hamilton Rare Breeds Foundation in Hartland, Vt., Hastings oversees herds of Poitou donkeys, Choctaw mustangs, Dales ponies, and American Cream draft horses. She has worked on farms for 35 years, and it’s here, with her horses, that she recovers from treatments for metastatic breast cancer. “Animals and farming are in my blood,” she says. First diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in April 1998, Hastings had a radical mastectomy at a hospital near her home in Vermont. Eleven years later, she felt a lump in the …

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Know Your Surroundings: How Cancer Treatments Can Keep Cells From Supporting Tumors

By Eric Bender Multiple myeloma is a poster child for recent advances in treatment: In the past decade, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved no fewer than nine treatments for the blood cancer, and several more drug approvals appear to be near. Not coincidentally, multiple myeloma is also a popular target that researchers use to study the interactions of tumor cells and their “tumor microenvironments” — the non-cancerous cells, molecules and blood vessels that surround and often support the malignant cells. “These new myeloma drugs are all based on understanding how the tumor cells interact with other cells …

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A Better Way to Care for Seriously Ill Children and Their Families

Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH

This post originally appeared on WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog.  By Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH How is it that, in this day and age, a talented teenager treated for lymphoma emerges cured but with a life-threatening eating disorder? How is it that, in our nation’s capital, a boy dying at home from neuroblastoma experiences excruciating pain in his final moments? How is that, when we develop new drugs to treat children with cancer, we do not, at the same time, routinely and in a standardized manner ask them how they are feeling? As a pediatric oncologist and palliative care physician, I was alarmed by stories like …

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Childhood Cancer Patients Mark Hospital Departure with Bubbles

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Avery McAvoy’s last day in the hospital was a long-awaited milestone, but all the 2-year-old cared about was how it ended: with bubbles. After 12 months of treatment for neuroblastoma at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, much of which was spent on the inpatient oncology and hematology unit at Boston Children’s Hospital, Avery participated on a Friday afternoon last month in what has become a beloved discharge ritual for clinical staff and patient families. Lining both sides of the corridor outside her room, nurses and other caregivers cheered and blew bubbles as Avery and her parents walked past …

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Melanoma – What’s the Latest?

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Sun safety applies to everyone, regardless of skin color, gender, or age. That was the message emphasized in a recent live video webchat with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) dermatologist Jennifer Lin, MD. During the chat, Lin answered questions about the latest in melanoma treatment and prevention. “The bottom line is that UV radiation causes mutations in our genes, which can lead to cancer,” says Lin, who works in DF/BWCC’s Melanoma Treatment Center. “We have to live with the sun, so it’s important that we learn to limit exposure and minimize a lifetime risk of accumulating genetic mutations. ” …

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Family Ties: Why Genetics Matter

Genetics, cancer prevention

By Christine Hensel Triantos  On a cold winter day in 2002, Sharon Goyette stepped into Dana-Farber’s Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention. She was a 21-year-old college student, and this was the last place she wanted to be. But her mother had insisted. After developing colon cancer, Goyette’s mother had been diagnosed with Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), an inherited condition that increases the risk of many types of cancer, including colorectal, uterine, stomach, brain, and skin. Her colon cancer was now advanced, and she had pleaded with Goyette to undergo genetic testing to find out …

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