Confronting the Mental Challenges of Cancer Treatment

by Richard Saltus Living with cancer is a physical and emotional challenge, but people may also find it hampers their thought processes and memory. Often the deficits are temporary, but sometimes they persist or appear months or years later as delayed effects. Cognitive difficulties, says Clare Humphreys, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “are caused not just by the direct effect of cancer, but also the effects of treatment, as well as factors like pain, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and depression.”

Tips for Talking to Your Children About Genetic Test Results

There are many decisions parents face after testing for genetic cancer risk, including whether to tell their children and how to approach the conversation. If you decide to talk to your children about the test results, allow yourself some time to process the information; you want to be calm and clear when you talk with them. Remember that you know your children best and there are no set rules for talking to kids about genetic tests.

Research in Advanced Ovarian Cancer Shows Promise

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 known as PARP inhibitors for patients with platinum-sensitive recurrent ovarian cancer – tumors that initially responded to platinum-based chemotherapy agents but have shown evidence of regrowth at least six months after treatment. Phase 3 trials test drugs in large numbers of patients to evaluate the drugs’ effectiveness as well as …

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Outsmart Your Genes: Understanding BRCA1/2 Cancer Risk

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 cancer. Jolie’s announcement left many women wanting to know more: What is a gene mutation? Should I undergo genetic testing? What should I do if my tests are positive?

Exercise Can Help Fight Cancer Fatigue

By Nancy Campbell, MS Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most common complaints among cancer patients and survivors. This type of weariness, which typically occurs during treatment or in the first year after, is particularly difficult because it can last for long periods of time and doesn’t go away after sleep or rest. A growing body of research shows that cancer patients who get regular exercise report feeling less tired. If you’re interested in starting an exercise routine to address fatigue, consider these tips:

Living with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer

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, and shortness of breath: those were the subtle constellation of symptoms that landed me in my primary care doctor’s office. At the age of 50, I felt like I was going downhill fast.

What Should I Expect for my PET/CT Scan?

By Melanie Graham Patients undergo different types of scanning procedures to produce detailed images of potential cancer growth. Depending on the cancer, physicians may use MRI, mammography, CT, PET/CT or other technologies. While some of these procedures use only x-rays or radio waves to create images, a PET/CT scan uses a combination of traditional x-rays and computer imaging. A radioactive substance similar to glucose is given to the patient, and because cancer cells tend to use more glucose than normal cells, PET/CT scans can help detect the biological activity of those cancer cells.

New Therapies Bring Progress Against Multiple Myeloma

By Christine Cleary  The 21st century has seen great strides in treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow once considered a death sentence. In fact, thanks to research by Dana-Farber scientists, this blood cancer that took the lives of Geraldine Ferraro and Leonard P. Zakim has become a chronic disease for many patients.

An Overview of Lymphoma Therapy

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 Lindskog used nitrogen mustard to successfully treat a patient with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.