Why I Ride: Dr. Christopher Sweeney

Team Shawmut PMC

Since 1980, more than 88,000 cyclists have taken to Massachusetts’ roads for the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) to raise funds for cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber. Among the riders are many patients, their family members, and their doctors. Christopher Sweeney, MBBS, medical oncologist in Dana-Farber’s Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, is one of them. We recently spoke with Dr. Sweeney about what motivates him to ride. Why did you start riding the PMC? In addition to treating patients with genitourinary cancers, particularly prostate and testicular cancer, I do clinical and translational research, with a focus on trying to find …

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Solving Puzzles with Cigall Kadoch


Growing up in the San Francisco area, Cigall Kadoch, PhD, had a passion for puzzles. The daughter of a Moroccan-born, Israeli-raised father and a mother from Michigan who together developed an interior design business, Kadoch excelled in school and pretty much everything else. Above all, she loved to solve brain-teasers. In high school, however, Kadoch came up against a problem that defied solution. Breast cancer took the life of a beloved family caretaker who had nurtured her interests in science and nature. “I was deeply saddened and very frustrated at my lack of understanding of what had happened,” recalls Kadoch, …

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Approval of Targeted Lung Cancer Drug Iressa Culminates Long Research Trail

precision medicine

The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug Iressa® for a form of metastatic lung cancer represents a return to prominence for the compound that launched the era of targeted therapy in lung cancer – even if that wasn’t clear at the time of its original clinical trial in patients. The FDA approved Iressa (gefitinib) as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumor cells harbor specific mutations in the gene EGFR. “The approval of Iressa is important because newly diagnosed patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer now have more treatment options,” said Pasi A. …

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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?

checkpoint inhibitors, immunotherapy

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?


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

Gordon Freeman 150

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

4.23.14 MammogramsSmall

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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