When Ken Anderson, MD, began working on multiple myeloma four decades ago, the disease, a cancer of the bone marrow, was untreatable. “People died within months,” says Anderson. Today, the story is very different. In the past decade, eight new multiple myeloma treatments have been approved. Survival has doubled. “When we see new patients, we can look them in the eye and say it’s likely you will live a decade or longer with modern therapies,” says Anderson, who recently received a 2012 Medal of Honor award from the American Cancer Society for his contributions to these advancements. “And that’s continuing …
Like wombats and wildebeests, cancer cells are continually adapting to their environment. If that environment includes drugs meant to kill cancer cells, some cells may adapt so well, they eventually gain the ability to grow and divide in spite of those drugs – a process known as drug resistance. The result can be a resurgence of tumors that once were held in check by treatment.
Cancer scientists use a wide variety of techniques to study the growth and development of tumor cells. Laboratory research often focuses on individual cells or tissue samples, but to learn how cancers grow and respond to therapies in living organisms, scientists rely on other experimental models. In recent years, zebrafish have become the model of choice for studying many cancer types. Dana-Farber’s A. Thomas Look, MD, who uses zebrafish in his own work, explains why.
The dirt roads in northern Rwanda now lead to a cancer center where patients can receive care for a disease that was, until now, considered a death sentence there. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which was dedicated on July 18, has allowed Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center to extend a helping hand in this tiny, densely populated country in Africa.
Genes don’t cause cancer, but genetic mutations can. Our cells have about 22,000 genes, which consist of DNA packed into chromosomes inside the cell nucleus. These genes control a wide range of functions, including cell growth and division. When the genes misbehave or mutate, cancer can develop.
Musician Sheryl Crow announced on June 5 that she has a benign brain tumor known as a meningioma. Below, doctors from Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology describe this condition. The singer-songwriter, a breast cancer survivor, visited Dana-Farber in 2006. Meningiomas are tumors on the surface of the brain, spinal cord, and fluid spaces. They are the most common type of brain tumor, with approximately 55,000 new cases diagnosed annually in the United States.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer that affects young women more than older women. Because it’s relatively uncommon — it represents less than five percent of all breast cancer cases — people are often confused about what inflammatory breast cancer is and how you can detect it. As a breast oncologist specializing in inflammatory breast cancer, I want to share some of the common myths to help you separate fact from fiction about IBC.
Immunotherapy is one of the most technologically advanced yet basic forms of cancer treatment. It uses the body’s own defense mechanism, the immune system, to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is probably most familiar to you in the form of vaccinations for the flu, polio, chicken pox, and other contagious diseases. In those cases, people are injected with a dead or weakened form of the virus responsible for the disease. That prompts the immune system to produce antibodies and white blood cells that ward off infection from the live virus. For cancer prevention, two immune system-stimulating vaccines are now in use: one …