What are the Main Types of Gynecologic Cancers?

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Close to 100,000 women are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer in the United States each year. In recognition of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at the main types of gynecologic cancers and their symptoms. Cervical cancer In cervical cancer, cancer cells form in the tissues of the cervix, the lower, narrow end of the uterus. More than 12,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Unlike other gynecologic cancers, cervical cancer has a standard screening test, the Pap smear, during which a doctor takes a sample of cells from the cervix. Doctors may also test …

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Advice from Mother and Son on Facing Cancer Together

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Hearing the words “you have cancer” can be hard enough, but what is it like to hear them echoed for a loved one? Having two cancer patients in one family calls for extra strength from everyone involved. Karen Perry was undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer when she and her husband Brian learned that their son Owen, then 11, had leukemia. He was hospitalized for five months at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “My knees buckled when I heard the news,” recalls Perry. “Learning Owen had cancer was harder than learning I had it.” The Perrys offer the following …

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How Robotics are Improving Treatment for Head and Neck Cancers

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Head and neck (oropharyngeal) cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the U.S., with nearly 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Though tobacco and alcohol use can raise the risk of developing the disease, exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) poses an even greater risk. People who have had an oral HPV infection have a 50 times greater risk of developing head and neck cancer versus the general population. Currently, nearly three quarters of head and neck tumors test positive for HPV. A growing number of these newly diagnosed cases are among men in their forties and fifties. Since the early …

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Dentist Brings a Smile to Transplant Patients

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Like many family members of cancer patients, Stephen Matarazzo, DMD, wanted a meaningful way to thank the Dana-Farber caregivers who saved his son Michael’s life. What he came up with involved offering his own professional expertise to protect the smiles of others. A dentist based in Quincy, Mass., Matarazzo provides pro bono dental exams and services to cancer and benign hematology patients who, like his son did, need stem cell transplants. Dental visits are critical transplants suppress the immune system, and patients are at significant risk for developing infections – in some cases life-threatening ones. The oral cavity and teeth …

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Understanding the New Treatment Guidelines for HER2-Negative Breast Cancer

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A new national guideline for the treatment of women with a type of advanced breast cancer known as HER2-negative disease balances state-of-the-art evidence with a need to tailor therapy to each patient’s circumstances and preferences. The guideline, developed by a panel of experts convened by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), will help clarify the choices facing patients and physicians in treating one of the most common forms of breast cancer. Nearly 80 percent of advanced breast cancers are classified as HER2-negative, meaning the cancer cells do not have excess amounts of the HER2 protein and don’t respond to …

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Adult Leukemia: Five Things You Need to Know

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More than 52,000 new cases of adult leukemia are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Although it is one of the more common childhood cancers, leukemia is found more often in older adults. As September marks Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month, we look at some important facts about adult leukemia: 1.     What are the different types of leukemia? Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. Main types of leukemia include: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) – AML causes the bone marrow to produce immature white blood cells (called myeloblasts). As a result, patients may have a very high or low white …

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New Surgery Technique Expands Treatment Options for Brain Tumor Patients

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For many patients with brain tumors or other abnormal tissue located deep in the brain, treatment options have been limited. Last year, Jill Colter, now 50, discovered that a brain tumor resulting from Stage IV melanoma had returned. “Several years earlier, I had treatment with surgery and radiation, but the tumor came back,” Jill said. Due to the location of Jill’s tumor and her prior radiation, surgery and further radiation weren’t possible to treat her tumor. Colter was referred to neurosurgeon Alexandra Golby, MD, director of image-guided neurosurgery and clinical co-director of the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) Suite …

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Get the Facts on Metastatic Breast Cancer

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When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body it is known as metastatic breast cancer (MBC), or metastatic disease. MBC is also sometimes referred to as advanced stage breast cancer or stage IV breast cancer. Although there is no cure for MBC, it is treatable. Thanks to new treatments developed through clinical trials, women with MBC are often able to lead full, active lifestyles with a good quality of life. We sat down with Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH, a breast oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, to learn more:   Are there …

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Mother and Son, Both Cancer Survivors, Share Their Story on Radio-Telethon

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When Lisa Robert is interviewed at Fenway Park  for the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance Foundation (Aug 19-20), her mind will no doubt drift back to 1976, when she was a 7-year-old leukemia patient at Dana-Farber and had the thrill of her life. She threw out the first pitch of the season at Fenway to Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk. Lisa won’t be the only member of her family reminiscing on air about pediatric cancer. Her son, Josh Robert, now 17, was treated at Dana-Farber in 2009 for Burkitt’s lymphoma. Two generations of Jimmy Fund Clinic …

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Post-Traumatic Stress and Cancer

Many associate post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, with veterans returning home from war, or those involved in similarly violent scenarios. But PTSD can occur after any life-threatening traumatic event – including a serious illness like cancer. “It’s common for cancer patients, even if they don’t have full-blown PTSD, to have some of the symptoms of it,” says Fremonta Meyer, MD, of Dana-Farber’s department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, who notes PTSD rates among cancer survivors are slightly higher than the general population. Symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the traumatic event, usually in the form of flashbacks or nightmares; avoidance; …

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