Five Things You Need to Know About Glioblastomas

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Glioblastomas are the most common primary cancer of the brain, with 13,000 new cases being diagnosed each year in the United States. Although it is a fast-moving cancer, doctors know a lot about this type of tumor and are finding ways to fight it. Here are five things you need to know about glioblastomas: 1. What is a glioblastoma? A glioblastoma is a central nervous system tumor. It is formed in the supportive tissue of the spinal cord and brain and is typically found more often in adults. It is an astrocytic tumor, which means it begins in the star-shaped …

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Google+ Hangout: Coping with Cancer as a Young Adult

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Karen Fasciano, PsyD, director of the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber, recently joined young adults with cancer from across the country for a Google+ Hangout to discuss the challenges of facing cancer as a young person. “Cancer is different when you are building your adult life,” said Fasciano. “[Cancer] can cause high levels of emotional distress – sadness, anxiety – which can be somewhat overwhelming. Often young adults need help coming up with new coping strategies.” Heidi Floyd (@followheidi), Bret Hoekema (@brethoekema), Allie Morse (@allieemorse), Renee Nicholas (@reneenicholas), Alex Niles (@alxniles), and Tara Shuman (@tarashuman) joined Fasciano on July 30 …

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Documenting Illness: Images of Hope

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In the midst of a serious illness, there are glimpses of a childhood intact: painting a ceramic ladybug, reading “Froggy Learns to Swim” before bed with siblings Drew, 10, Meghan, 8, and Daniel, 2, and joining friends in the outfield for a summer staple – a baseball game. These are the ordinary moments in 7-year-old Riley Fessenden’s life, captured by Abby Archer, a photography major and recent graduate of Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. These slow summer days are a gift, a reprieve from the rigors of treatment for Riley, who was diagnosed in May 2013 with esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare …

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How Reiki and Qigong Can Help Cancer Patients

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Cancer therapy can take a toll on one’s body and mind. Thankfully, there are a variety of integrative therapies that, together with traditional medicine, can help patients feel better during treatment. Through the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, Dana-Farber offers therapies such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, yoga, and creative arts and music therapy, as well as lesser-known practices, including reiki and qigong. What is Reiki? Reiki involves allowing the universal life energy believed to surround and inhabit the body to help ease anxiety and promote relaxation. During reiki sessions, master practitioners gently place their hands on or above …

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The Truth About BRCA Testing and Genetic Risk

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Cancer genetics has come a long way in the last two decades, leading to increased prevention and improved treatment options. Today, research is shining the light on why certain people have an increased risk for cancer. “It took us 20 years to get where we are today with the knowledge of BRCA1/2, but we are starting to find changes in other genes that are explaining a history of cancer in families,” says Huma Q. Rana, MD, clinical director for Dana-Farber’s Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention. “These new genes we’re identifying are likely to make a difference in prevention and …

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Research Shines Spotlight on Risk of Morcellation Procedure in Hysterectomy

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Research by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists supports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent warning about laparoscopic power morcellation, a procedure sometimes used to remove the uterus and uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths that often appear during childbearing years. The FDA based its warning on data suggesting that the procedure may spread unsuspected cancerous tissue beyond the uterus. The procedure involves an electrical device, a morcellator, that slices uterine tissue into pieces that are removed through small incisions in the abdomen. Such “minimally invasive” surgery is often preferred to traditional, open-abdominal surgery because it can lower the risk of infection and …

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Five Tips for Managing Stress During Cancer Treatment

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Everyone faces stress from time to time, but a cancer diagnosis can be particularly challenging for both the patient and the family members. “For many of our patients and survivors, they experience a great deal of stress related to their diagnosis, treatment, or fears of recurrence,” says Eric Zhou, PhD, clinical psychology fellow at Dana-Farber’s Perini Family Survivors’ Center. “But they also have general life stresses on top of that, like family, finances, and work, that don’t go away just because they’re battling cancer.” Zhou, who leads Dana-Farber’s Survivor Stress Management and Relaxation Training (SMART) workshops, provides some tips on …

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Research Advances Hold Promise for Multiple Myeloma Treatment

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Multiple myeloma is one of the most compelling examples of a cancer in which research has markedly improved the length and quality of patients’ lives in the last decade. A malignancy of certain white blood cells in the bone marrow known as plasma cells, myeloma is still considered incurable, but treatment advances have significantly improved survival. Not long ago, patients with myeloma lived a median time of two to three years after diagnosis. Today, median survival is seven to 10 years, although this can be unpredictable, with some patients living longer and others surviving for significantly shorter time periods. Scientists have …

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What to Do if Your Child Relapses

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Relapse is a word any cancer patient dreads, but for parents of children with cancer, fear of the cancer coming back can be acute. Yet, “a cure is possible for many patients whose cancer returns,” says Barbara Degar, MD.  “We approach the second experience with the same rigor we brought the first time, and come up with the best strategy to achieve a second remission.” About 15-20 percent of children with acute lymphoblastic  leukemia (ALL) will relapse, 40 percent of children with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), and 50 percent of children with neuroblastoma. In some cases, treatment the second time …

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How Exercise Can Help Neuropathy

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For many patients treated with chemotherapy, peripheral neuropathy can be an uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous side effect. The condition, which includes tingling or loss of sensation in the arms or legs, can increase risk for falls and fall-related injuries. To help prevent and ease these problems, Dana-Farber exercise physiologist Nancy Campbell, MS, recommends patients use low-impact exercise routines like finger taps, calf stretches, and ankle rolls. These exercises help increase blood flow to the peripheral nerves, restoring feeling in the extremities. The routines also build strength and improve balance, which can lead to fewer falls. View Campbell’s presentation below for …

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