Not long ago, a diagnosis of multiple myeloma — a cancer of the bone marrow — carried with it a very poor prognosis, with median survival estimates of just two to three years. Now, thanks in large part to research and treatment advances at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), […]
In prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men aside from skin cancer – scientists are working to answer some of the most basic questions about the disease while developing an array of new treatments. Using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, doctors are often able to detect prostate […]
NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, 74, revealed this week he has multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. The disease, also known as plasma cell myeloma, will be diagnosed in more than 24,000 Americans this year.
Immunotherapy – stimulating the body’s defenses to recognize and destroy disease-causing cells and proteins – was dubbed the “breakthrough of the year” in 2013 by Science magazine. Dana-Farber researchers have contributed many important discoveries over the years about how the immune system works. Now, they are building on these insights […]
When cancer develops in someone with other diseases, it can be more serious, according to a recent annual report from several national cancer organizations. “Cancer does not occur in isolation,” says Lawrence Shulman, MD, in commenting on the report. “It occurs in a human being, who may have other medical problems.”
By Richard Saltus Though quite curable when diagnosed early, kidney cancer in advanced stages can become a stubborn disease. However, the outlook for patients with metastatic kidney cancer has brightened in the past several years. Oncologists have added to their arsenal a number of designer drugs that attack molecular targets […]
For about 70 years, the standard treatment for patients with advanced prostate cancer was drugs that blocked male hormones feeding the tumor. If that stopped working and the disease progressed, oncologists turned to chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells. This timetable is about to change. Results of a clinical trial […]
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Harold Burstein, MD, PhD, and Erica Mayer, MD, MPH recently partnered with CancerConnect to answer questions about breast cancer therapies. Burstein and Mayer are breast oncologists in the Center for Breast Oncology at Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. Q: What medications are helpful […]
Ann LaCasce, MD, a medical oncologist in the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Adult Lymphoma Program, answered a variety of questions about Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma during a live web chat hosted by Dana-Farber last month.
Experts with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) have recommended that current smokers and former-smokers who recently quit should undergo an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer.
As 2013 comes to a close, we’re looking back at some of our favorite Insight posts from the last year. From inspiring patient stories to important research, here is our top 10 list:
By Robert Levy Treatments that unleash the body’s own disease-fighting cells against cancer – an approach known as immunotherapy – have been heralded as the “Breakthrough of the Year” by Science magazine.
An analysis of data from the decades-long Nurses’ Health Study revealed that women who ate a one-ounce serving of nuts – any kind of nuts – two or more times a week had a 35 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer than women who abstained from them. That’s a significant […]
The 36th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which ran from Dec. 10-14, brought news of significant advances against a disease that strikes more than 230,000 women and 2,000 men in the United States each year. The more than 1,000 research papers presented by thousands of scientists and physicians ranged […]
While some people claim dairy products can prevent cancer, others argue that dairy could actually increase the cancer risk. There are also concerns that dairy can potentially spur growth in hormone-sensitive cancers, including some forms of ovarian and breast cancer. Is there a relationship between dairy and cancer? We consulted with the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center […]
Approximately 173,000 people in the United States are living with Hodgkin lymphoma, or are in remission. Less common than non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma (sometimes referred to as Hodgkin’s lymphoma) is a malignancy of B lymphocytes, an important cell in the immune system. This malignant B cell is known as the […]
Lymphoma: How do we treat it? Where are future therapies headed? On Wednesday, Dec. 18, Ann LaCasce, MD, of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Adult Lymphoma Program will answer your questions about lymphoma care in a live video webchat. The 45-minute chat starts at 1 p.m. EST and will […]
Despite the research, the promising new drugs, the many ongoing clinical trials, lung cancer remains a disease that affects too many people, too often. For patients and family members, the disease carries an added burden: a stigma that lung cancer and smoking go hand in hand, and that lung cancer […]
by Richard Saltus As recently as five years ago, progress in treating life-threatening malignant melanoma was slow. Since then, several molecularly targeted drugs have burst on the scene, and new strategies for awakening the immune system to attack the cancer cells have yielded dramatic long-term survival benefits for some patients. […]
As November marks Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, view the infographic below to learn more about the disease:
Current lymphoma therapies are a far cry from the mustard gas used more than 50 years ago. More treatment options, including ones that may be more effective and less toxic, are being studied in ongoing clinical trials. “Clinical trials really are the future of lymphoma treatment,” says Ann LaCasce, MD, […]
By Mark Pomerantz, MD There has been some uncertainty surrounding this question, but recent studies have demonstrated that having a vasectomy has no effect on the risk of prostate or testicular cancer. Older data – from studies tracking disease rates across broad population groups – suggested a modest connection, while […]
Lung cancer develops in the tissue of the lung, usually in the cells that line the air passages. Here are some common questions about the disease, answered by Pasi A. Jänne, MD, PhD, Director of Dana-Farber’s Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology. What are the types of lung cancer? There are several types […]
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, but only 5-10 percent of breast cancer cases are hereditary. Of those cases, roughly 20-25 percent are linked to mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (BRCA stands for BReast CAncer susceptibility). View the infographic below for more on the […]
Each year, Dana-Farber patients join clinicians, staff, and the Boston Red Sox to share their stories of inspiration and their belief in the research advances at Dana-Farber during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon at Fenway Park. This year, nearly 100 patients, including Rayquan Fregeau, who used art and resources from […]
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recently partnered with CancerConnect and Lakshmi Nayak, MD, to answer questions about brain cancer. Nayak is a neuro-oncologist in the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School. Q: There seems to be some progress concerning treatment […]
Breast cancer may develop in one part of the body, but it’s not just one disease. In fact, oncologists think of breast cancer as at least three different types of diseases. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) describes breast cancer cells that do not have estrogen, progesterone, or HER2 receptors. It makes […]
By Alexi Wright, MD, MPH Although there are two main types of cervical cancer, known as adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, they’ve generally been treated as one disease, with the same approach to treatment. In a recent study, my colleagues and I surveyed the DNA in both types of cervical […]
By Richard Saltus Physicians have long recognized that the same disease can behave differently from one patient to another, and that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. In cancer, chemotherapy might dramatically shrink one lung tumor but prove ineffective against the same type of tumor in a different patient – even though […]
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recently partnered with CancerConnect and Ursula Matulonis, MD, to answer questions about ovarian cancer. Experts in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers offer the latest research and treatment for this type of cancer. Watch one patient’s story. Q: Is taking curcumin recommended to prevent ovarian cancer from returning? […]
Lung cancer can be a frightening diagnosis. However, new treatment approaches and promising research trends have made the outlook for patients a little more optimistic, says David Jackman, MD, an oncologist in the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
By Ursula Matulonis, MD After a long period of slow progress, new knowledge about the genetics of ovarian cancer is leading to the development and testing of new therapies. Researchers at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers will soon be launching several phase 3 clinical trials testing drugs […]
When Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy earlier this year, this issue of cancer risk and genetics made front-page headlines. Jolie, who announced the operation in a New York Times op-ed, tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation and learned she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast […]
By Maura Perkins I can’t pinpoint when I started to get ovarian cancer symptoms. It was all very subtle and gradual. I was a healthy person. I ran, biked swam, hiked, and went to the gym regularly. A slight pain in my left side, difficulty digesting food, feeling of fullness, […]
By Melanie Graham During a child’s cancer therapy and recovery process, insomnia can often be viewed as only a side effect in the scope of treatment-related symptoms. However, there are many physical and psychological implications that develop when a child does not sleep well, says Eric Zhou, PhD, a clinical […]
More than 70 years ago, two pharmacologists began looking at mustard gas as a possible treatment for lymphoma. The chemical, used during World War I, lowered blood counts and destroyed lymph nodes in soldiers who were exposed to the gas. Two decades after the war, a thoracic surgeon named Gustav […]
The drug Avastin, when added to initial therapy for glioblastoma, can give patients a few extra months’ reprieve before their brain tumors start growing again, but does it make their quality of life better – or worse? That’s a matter of heated debate for doctors – and confusion for patients […]
By Ian Krop, MD, PhD Clinical trials are scientific studies in which new treatments – drugs, diagnostic procedures, and other therapies – are tested in people to find out if they are safe and effective. Nearly all cancer drugs in use today were tested in clinical trials.
By Wendy Chen, MD Dana-Farber Breast Oncology Center Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers Millions of women in the United States have sought treatment for fertility-related problems over the past 35 years. Because many of these treatments –including fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization (IVF) – use hormones to […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
By William Hahn, MD, PhD Every year, hundreds of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students study cancer research at Dana-Farber under some of the world’s leading scientists. The Dana-Farber Postdoc and Graduate Student Affairs Office recently named the first recipient of its Mentor-of-the-Year Award: William Hahn, MD, PhD, the Institute’s deputy […]
Win or lose, Miss America contestant Allyn Rose made news with her decision to undergo a double mastectomy. According to the Associated Press, Rose, who lost her mother to breast cancer, inherited a rare genetic mutation which might put her at greater risk for developing cancer. Her decision to have […]
For David Williams, MD, the field of pediatrics offers two great attractions. “It is wonderful because of the kinds of patients you take care of,” he says. “But also because of the personalities of pediatricians – in pediatrics you find very compassionate and caring people.” Williams embodies that compassion and […]
When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, she began learning as much as she could about her disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer: Up to 40 percent of women who have a lumpectomy require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often […]
This post was originally published in December 2012. When it comes to treating prostate cancer, proton radiotherapy (PRT) is no better than traditional intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), according to a new study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on Friday. PRT is an advanced but expensive treatment […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
By Karen Lee Sobol I recently learned that the word “patient” shares a Latin root with the word “compassion.” Any one of us can become a patient, for a number of reasons. For me, hearing a diagnosis of Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia flipped a switch. I became a patient in a big way.
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 […]
The call of the beach is hard to ignore on sunny summer days. Yet many teens and young adults do not follow protection tips when they hit the sand. They remain the most difficult age group to convince that ultraviolet (UV) rays, which come from the sun and indoor tanning […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
It’s not always easy to recognize that we live in a golden age. Too often we fail to appreciate the amazing things going on around us because we‘re so caught up in day-to-day activities and pressing demands that we presume that the extraordinary is rather ordinary. So it may be […]
By James Bond “How long will I live?” I asked my oncologist in Ohio in 1992, when I was 44 and diagnosed with multiple myeloma. “Three years,” he answered. Instead, I enjoyed 10 more years of active living. Then my disease began to overtake me; my kidneys were failing, I […]
The Encyclopedia Britannica may have published its last print edition, but a group of Dana-Farber scientists and their colleagues recently produced one of the first encyclopedias to help researchers determine which subtypes of cancer are likely to respond to current drugs. The freely available, online encyclopedia lists hundreds of cancer […]
Chinese scientists recently found a gene that encourages the growth of a form of lung cancer by switching on a circuit that includes a gene called sonic hedgehog. How do genes get their names? When a scientist discovers a new human gene, he or she submits a proposed name to […]
The American Association for Cancer Research recently held its annual meeting in Chicago. Dr. Loren Walensky of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center talks about some of the highlights, including personalized medicine and a new grant that’s helping his team develop new technology to target cancer.
At many supermarkets, you can dump a pocketful of change into a machine that rapidly counts your coins, sorting them into pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters and computing the total amount. Imagine something similar in a research lab. In the past, cells had to be manually studied and counted under […]
For most people, getting involved with a cause means thinking about what type of organization they’d like to support. But this is a story about what happens when a cause selects you – taps you on the shoulder and asks you to engage in battle. It began in 1998 when […]
For many women who enjoy a glass of wine, research showing that relatively small amounts of alcohol can raise their risk of breast cancer are disconcerting, to say the least. And confusing, too. How much drinking is OK? Isn’t a glass of red wine a day good for your heart […]
If you’re over 50, have you been screened for colorectal cancer? If not, the month of March would be a great time to talk about screening with your doctor. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer in men and women in theUnited States. In 2012, an estimated 141,210 […]
When it comes to finding better drugs for cancer, Dana-Farber oncologist Dr. David Frank is not a patient man. While new cancer science promises to bring novel, improved therapies to the bedside, it can take many years — and Frank isn’t willing to wait. “We need to get new treatments […]
The complicated meaty machine that is the human body can break down in a remarkable variety of ways. The 9th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) includes more than 16,000 afflictions – everything from the bite of a venomous tropical millipede to injury by falling spacecraft debris. With all […]
If your son or daughter has been diagnosed with a type of sarcoma – a tumor in connective tissue like muscles or bones – there are many questions: Will my child make a full recovery? What are the immediate and long-term side effects of treatment? Most parents don’t consider whether […]
The face of cancer care in 2011 changed in encouraging and – in some cases – challenging ways. Here are some of the cancer stories that captured the most press attention in 2011. A federal task force recommended against routine testing of healthy men for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which […]
There are a lot of good reasons not to gain too much weight, but you might not be aware of this one: Growing evidence links obesity to a higher risk of developing cancer, and being overweight may worsen a cancer patient’s outlook. Although more and more studies are finding this […]
In 1958, when scientists linked an aggressive form of leukemia to infection with a particular virus, some researchers took the discovery as evidence that nearly all cancers are caused by viruses. A cover story in Life magazine in 1962 proclaimed, “Cancer may be infectious.” Today, it is estimated that viruses […]
Activated by sunlight and present in some foods and supplements, vitamin D has been associated with healthy bones and reducing the risk of diabetes and cancer. But a new study says that the recommended dose of vitamin D needed to reap these health benefits remains unclear. To help shed some […]