Cancer Immunology at Dana-Farber

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 to develop immunotherapy against tumors – known as immuno-oncology. In 2005 Dana-Farber established the Cancer Vaccine Center (CVC) under the leadership of Ellis Reinherz, MD, Jerome Ritz, MD, and Glenn Dranoff, MD. The mission of the CVC is to translate the promising insights from basic immunology into therapeutics that benefit …

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Is Cancer More Serious If You Also Have Another Disease?

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.”

New Strategies in Treating Kidney Cancer

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 – genetic abnormalities that drive tumors – with high specificity.

New Findings May Change Treatment of Advanced Prostate Cancer

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 led by a Dana-Farber researcher revealed that such patients lived longer if started on both a hormone blocker and a chemotherapy drug at the same time. The government-sponsored trial found that 69 percent of men receiving both treatments were alive at three years, compared with 52.5 percent of men who …

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Ask the Expert: Questions and Answers About Breast Cancer Treatment

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 for depression after breast cancer treatment and while taking tamoxifen?

Top 10 Insight Stories from 2013

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:

New Study: Nuts Linked to Reduced Risk of Pancreatic and Other Cancers

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 and encouraging piece of news for a field that has had far too little.