What’s New in Pediatric Brain Tumor Treatment?

Mark Kieran, MD, PhD

As one of the most difficult cancers to treat, childhood brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children under age 10. However, researchers are making more progress than ever before. “Over the last 10 years there has been a lot of excitement about new treatments for pediatric brain tumors,” says Peter Manley, MD, a pediatric neuro-oncologist with Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and director of the Stop & Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic. “We’re looking at brain tumors on a molecular level to find potential targeted therapies that can not only treat the cancer, …

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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:

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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Can Women Get More Than One Lumpectomy?

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For many women with localized breast cancer, a lumpectomy followed by breast radiation therapy may be the most effective treatment, with survival rates equal to a mastectomy. But if the cancer comes back, can women have additional lumpectomies? Women should not have a second lumpectomy in the same breast if they were previously treated with a lumpectomy and radiation, says Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS, director of Breast Surgical Services at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Instead, the standard course of treatment is a mastectomy (total removal of the breast), with or without reconstruction, to avoid …

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Immunotherapy, Targeted Drugs, Brain Cancer Research Among Highlights at Cancer Meeting

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Eagerly awaited new data from trials of immunotherapy drugs, vaccines to treat brain tumors, and improved treatments for blood cancers sparked waves of optimism at the year’s biggest cancer meeting. The 2015 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) drew about 30,000 cancer specialists to Chicago May 29 – June 2. Immunotherapy, which uses drugs to block immune “checkpoints” such as PD-1 and PD-L1, allowing the patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells, drew standing-room-only audiences as researchers reported updated results in studies of melanoma, lung cancer, and brain cancer. Investigators from Dana-Farber and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer …

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How the Body’s Immune System Can Fight Cancer

F. Stephen Hodi, MD

Immunology is one of the most promising areas of cancer treatment today. Immunotherapy drugs, which use the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer cells, have been effective in treating several forms of the disease, including melanoma, prostate cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, and certain types of brain tumors. The immune system has natural stopping points when fighting against bacteria and infection, which prevent the system from going after the body’s own cells and tissues. However, these “brakes” prevent the immune system from successfully attacking cancer cells and tumors. Immunotherapy drugs block those brakes, allowing the immune system to fight and destroy …

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Explaining the Complexities of Cancer

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This post originally appeared on Cancer Research Catalyst, the official blog of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).  Burgeoning understanding of the biology of cancer has led to advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment. These advances mean that a person diagnosed with cancer in the United States today has a greater chance of surviving their diagnosis than ever before. Despite the tremendous advances, almost 600,000 people in the United States are expected to die from cancer this year alone. We asked Eric Winer, MD, chief of the Division of Women’s Cancers and director of the Breast Oncology …

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How a Cure for Hodgkin Lymphoma Changed the Course of Cancer Treatment

ASCO, George Canellos, Hodgkiin lymphoma

To mark its 50th anniversary, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) invited physicians, patients, and the public to name the most important advances in clinical cancer research in the past half century. From more than 2,000 responses, the top choice was a cure for advanced Hodgkin lymphoma developed by scientists at the National Cancer Institute in the mid-1960s. The treatment used a combination of chemotherapy agents known by the acronym MOPP and represented the first time that combination chemotherapy had cured a non-leukemic solid tumor in adults. Its success led to the development of other combinations of chemotherapy drugs …

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New Research Brings Better Understanding of Brain Tumors, Treatment Advances

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Brain cancer takes a variety of forms – and research to better understand and treat it is progressing on a variety of fronts. One area of focus is the tumor microenvironment the skein of tissues and blood vessels that feed and support a tumor. Researchers are exploring how newly formed brain tumors interact with surrounding cells to turn those cells into aiders and abetters of tumor growth. They’re particularly interested in how brain tumors tap into the body’s blood supply to draw in nutrients. Understanding these processes is a critical first step to devising therapies that prevent tumors from exploiting …

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The Science of PD-1 and Immunotherapy

The science of PD-1 and immunotherapy

This is a story about the velocity of an idea – a discovery whose potential to improve cancer treatment practically leapt from the test tube. The groundwork was laid in the 1990s, when scientists learned that human cells carry certain proteins on their surface that enable them to escape attack from the body’s immune system. That was followed by the discovery by Dana-Farber scientists that many cancer cells wear one of those same proteins, called PD-L1 – part of an elaborate masquerade that allows the cancer cells to live and multiply without harrassment from the immune system. The implications of …

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