New Study: Chemo Before Surgery Avoids Need for Mastectomy for Many with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

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Chemotherapy before surgery shrank triple-negative breast tumors in women in a clinical trial to the point where half of those who had not been eligible for breast-conserving surgery became eligible for it, according to investigators at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The findings were reported at the American Surgical Association annual meeting and in a study in the journal Annals of Surgery. The study involved 400 women participating in a phase 2 clinical trial of a combination chemotherapy regimen for triple-negative breast cancer, a malignancy whose cells lack receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and the protein HER2. …

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Screening Tips for Finding Skin Cancer Early

skin cancer screening

As we peel off winter clothing and head for the beach, it’s a perfect time to learn about the benefits of screening exams for melanoma and other skin cancers. Preventing these cancers with sun safety awareness is important – but so is detecting skin lesions in their earliest, most treatable stage. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is now the fifth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common in women in the United States. About 42,670 melanoma cases in men and 31,200 in women are projected for 2015, with 9,940 deaths. It’s also the only preventable …

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From Foe to Friend: Viruses Show New Promise as Cancer Treatment

SMALL Cancer Immunology & AIDS Team
Harvey Cantor

Almost as long as scientists have known of the existence of viruses, they’ve dreamed of using the tiny pathogens as a weapon against cancer. Now, as a result of advances in genetic engineering and insights into the workings of the immune system, science is giving substance to the dream. A variety of studies over the past few years have demonstrated the ability of specially modified viruses to attack and kill cancer cells – in the laboratory and, very recently, in some patients. Techniques vary from study to study, but the basic approach is to inject the viruses directly into tumors …

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The Latest in Precision Medicine and Lung Cancer

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Even before President Barack Obama declared it a national initiative, precision medicine has helped bring more effective treatment to patients with many types of cancer. One disease that has benefited from these treatments is lung cancer, where targeted therapies have significantly improved outcomes for patients. “When we find we have drugs targeted for a specific genetic mutation driving the cancer, the chance of having someone live longer and feel better is much higher,” says David Jackman, MD, a medical oncologist with Dana-Farber’s Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology and the institute’s Medical Director for Clinical Pathways. “We’re doubling, tripling, and in …

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ABC’s Dan Harris Shares His Journey to Mindfulness

ABC's Dan Harris

Mindfulness meditation is a simple, effective technique for relieving stress and focusing on the present, whether you’re a current cancer patient, a longtime survivor, or even “a fidgety news man.” This was the message delivered by Dan Harris, correspondent and co-anchor for ABC’s “Nightline” and “Good Morning America Weekend,” during the keynote speech at the 13th annual Lenny Lecture sponsored by Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, Adult Survivorship Program, and Perini Family Survivors’ Center. His talk centered on the powerful story of how he used 5-10 minutes of daily meditation to reduce the anxiety he felt in …

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My Lifetime Movie: How Cancer Changed Me

Deb March 2015

By Deb Norris My life plays like a Lifetime movie. I was born tall, blonde, with big breasts (note – they later tried to kill me). I was the straight-A cheerleader who dated the captain of the football team and became a corporate executive.  Friends teased me that I lived a charmed life. Then at 38, I lost my husband to glioblastoma, the “deadliest of all brain tumors”. It was a 16-month fight that confirmed my belief that what does not kill you, makes you stronger. A couple years later, I reconnected with the football captain and married him for …

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Promising Research Developments Stir Hopes for Melanoma, Lung, Breast and Ovarian Cancer

F. Stephen Hodi, MD

The growing excitement about the potential of immunotherapy treatments for cancer continued at the 2015 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), one of the largest cancer research meetings of the year. Several Dana-Farber investigators presented encouraging results of immunotherapy for melanoma, lung cancer, and breast cancer. F. Stephen Hodi, MD, and Leena Gandhi, MD, gave reports on recently published results for immunotherapy trials in melanoma and lung cancer, respectively. Their findings were simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “This field has changed a lot in the past few years and even in the past …

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Survivor, Hero, Battle: The Complicated Language of Cancer

The language of cancer

The language used to talk about cancer often focuses on battle words – those who are cured “won” or “survived,” while those who die from cancer “lost” their “fight.” But is cancer really something to be won or lost? Young adults with cancer discussed these phrases and others during the recent Young Adult Cancer Conference hosted by the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber. Labeling your cancer, and yourself as a patient or survivor, is often one of the most challenging aspects of the cancer experience, they said. Loved ones and those without cancer often consider cancer patients “heroes,” but, as …

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Five Things You Need to Know About Head and Neck Cancer

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Head and neck cancers represent a group of cancers that affect the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, and mouth. While these diseases only represent 2.5 percent of new cancer cases in the U.S., they affect vital functions, including swallowing and speaking. Here are five things to know about head and neck cancer: 1. What are the risk factors? Individuals who drink alcohol, particularly beer or hard liquor, and use cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or smokeless tobacco, are at a higher risk for developing head and neck cancer. Risk also increases with age, particularly those over 45. Certain strains of the human papilloma …

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Running Boston: ‘The Only Way I Know How’

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By Eric Kaye If you were living under a rock this winter… that is, a rock buried by seven feet of snow like most people around Boston, here is what you might have missed. The Patriots won the Super Bowl, Zayn Malik left One Direction, and Boston set an all-time record for snowfall. Also, somewhere hidden behind the snow banks that narrowed the city sidewalks, runners were training for the Boston Marathon. This is my 8th year repeating a ritual march from Hopkinton to Boston on the third Monday in April. All eight Boston Marathons run the only way I …

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