Should You Donate Tissue for Cancer Research?

By Eric Schuller If you recently learned you have cancer, donating a sample of your cancer tissue to science is probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s a topic that you might discuss with someone on your health care team, because cancer researchers often rely on donated tissue samples to help them better understand what causes cancer and which treatments are most effective.

Genetic Testing, Cancer Risk, and Angelina Jolie’s Choice

Actress Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the headlines, but she stunned the world with her Op-Ed in The New York Times, in which she shared her very private decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. “I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” wrote Jolie. “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness.” But for Jolie, and many others, getting genetic testing and taking action may offer control and comfort. How do you know if genetic testing is right for you? …

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Five Reasons for Optimism about Pediatric Cancer Care and Research

By Stephen Sallan, MD Today, three quarters or more of all childhood cancer patients will be cured of their disease, a higher percentage than ever before. And the numbers will only get better as we learn more about the biology of childhood cancers and develop new ways of treating them.

Can Acupuncture Ease Cancer Symptoms?

by Richard Saltus One of the oldest healing practices in the world, acupuncture is beginning to have a role in alleviating pain and discomfort associated with cancer and its treatments. Acupuncturists use fine needles to penetrate the skin and stimulate – manually or electrically – specific points on the body. Stimulation at these points, according to traditional Chinese medicine, corrects imbalance in the flow of qi – a type of energy that flows through channels known as meridians. Dana-Farber staff acupuncturist Weidong Lu, MB, MPH, PhD, of the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, has been using the technique with …

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Turning Traditional Medicine Into Cancer Drugs

Quite a few substances used in traditional medicine in China or other countries have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval as cancer drugs… and their numbers are growing.  Some examples are: Arsenic trioxide, made from arsenic sulfide ore, has been used therapeutically for more than 2,400 years. Following promising reports from China, the agent was tested in clinical trials and received FDA approval in 2000 for patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia who have not responded to other therapies or whose disease has recurred.

Why We Need to Fund Cancer Research

One of the goals of the Rally for Medical Research, held in conjunction with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2013 Annual Meeting, earlier this month was to bring awareness to and education about the impact of the cuts in federal funding for medical research. Dana-Farber’s Kenneth C. Anderson, MD participated in the Rally. He says in this video, that the scientists who exist today are extraordinary, and for the new generation of cancer researchers to build on today’s advances, it is all dependent on funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.      

Rally to Support Cancer Research Today

by Robert Levy More than 18,000 cancer scientists from around the world are in Washington, D.C., this week for the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The meeting serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest discoveries in cancer research. The meeting coincides with the Rally for Medical Research, which was held Monday morning on the steps of the Carnegie Library in the nation’s capital.

How Do Cancer Drugs Block Pathways?

by Richard Saltus    Cells are like young children – they need a lot of guidance on how to behave. Your body’s cells are constantly getting that help – in the form of hormones, growth factors, and other chemicals telling them when to rest, grow, duplicate their DNA, divide, or even self-destruct. These commands are relayed from the cell’s surface to its nucleus by molecular pathways, also called signaling pathways, which are a series of interacting proteins that relay cellular messages, much as cell phone towers relay phone calls. When the commands reach the cell nucleus, they activate or turn …

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Zeroing In On Dark Matter

By Richard Saltus If the human genome – the complete set of  DNA blueprints in a cell for building a human being — is truly “the book of life, ”  as it has been called, then 99 percent of life’s book is gobbledygook. Only 1 percent of the DNA contains genetic instructions for making the body’s proteins; most of the rest of it has no known purpose, earning it the unappealing title of “junk DNA” or the more ominous sounding “dark matter.” In addition to containing all of life’s necessary genetic instructions, the 1 percent had also been home to …

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Sequestration Could Slow the Pace of Biomedical Research

By Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD The automatic budget cuts (or sequestration) that went into to effect as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, could have a chilling long-term effect on scientific research in the United States. The automatic cuts will slash 5.1 percent – or about $1.6 billion in 2013 alone – from the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is the principal funder of biomedical research in the United States, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is a major supporter of research at Dana-Farber.