By Robert Levy
In a recent study, Oxford University researchers reported that although radiation therapy is a critical tool for the treatment of women with breast cancer, it can also raise their risk of a heart attack or heart disease later in life. The study was based on a review of medical records of 2,168 women in Sweden and Denmark who received radiation therapy for breast cancer between 1958 and 2001, and who were under age 70 at the time.
News coverage of the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has drawn new attention to the heart risks associated with radiation therapy even as it underscores such therapy’s role in improving survival rates for breast cancer patients.
by Richard Saltus
Colonoscopy exams get a bad rap.
Even though the exam is brief and painless, many people fear and avoid them. Roughly 40 percent of Americans for whom they are recommended are not getting colonoscopies.
Yet colonoscopy is one of the most effective of all cancer prevention methods. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 142,820 diagnoses of colorectal cancer in 2013 and 50,830 people will die of the disease. As many as 60 percent of colon cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone 50 years old or above underwent colonoscopies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
By Tara Shuman
Before October 31, 2012, I would have probably guessed that desensitization was a process invented by mental health professionals to make really sensitive people less sensitive. I might have inquired about the cost to put my four-year-old son through “desensitization” so that he wouldn’t throw such a fit when he lost a game of knee hockey in our basement.
Now I know that desensitization is a life-saving process necessary to treat cancer patients like me.
By Maria Pearson
As a technology teacher who had a long career with IBM before going into education, I have encountered all sorts of opportunities to teach – and to learn. The biggest such opportunity of my life occurred at the intersection of cancer, technology, and Dana-Farber.
In August 2010, I was diagnosed with stage III multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. No search engine was adequate in comforting my fears of life expectancy, treatment, or facing a stark life-altering challenge.
By Judy Garber, MD, MPH
We know that women who inherit harmful mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a sharply increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at an early age (prior to menopause). In fact, women with inherited BRCA1 or 2 mutations are about five times more likely to develop breast cancer – and at least 10 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer – than women without such mutations, according to the National Cancer Institute. Read more
Most people seek opinions from experts when it comes to important matters, such as finances, children’s education, or a major purchase.
Why not do so when it comes to your cancer treatment? Read more
By Melissa Cochran, MS, NP
For my cancer patients, a stem cell transplant is a life-changing event. They cannot work outside the home for a full year; visits to Dana-Farber are about the only excursions allowed. No more trips to the grocery store or dinners at a favorite restaurant.
In our clinic, we have a solid team in place – physicians, nurses, social workers, and nurse practitioners like myself – working together to support and anticipate each cancer patient’s needs along the way. As you can imagine, significant physical and emotional issues can arise for our patients. Read more
Pink may be the color for breast cancer advocacy, but that doesn’t mean men can’t be diagnosed with the disease. Each year, 2,000 men in the U.S. receive a breast cancer diagnosis. Current treatments are highly effective in men whose cancer is treated early. However, because men aren’t familiar with breast cancer symptoms, diagnosis is often delayed. Read more
by Michael Buller
Whenever I’ve met people with cancer, I’ve been at a loss for what to say and which questions to ask.
Now, as a cancer patient, I realize the irony. Read more
Not long ago, doctors were often skeptical when cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy complained that they were mentally foggy; unable to plan a week’s worth of meals or organize their finances as they could before. Patients called this side effect “chemobrain” and were frustrated by the lack of recognition – or suggested remedies – from their physicians. Read more