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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Five Things You Need to Know About Glioblastomas

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Glioblastomas are the most common primary cancer of the brain, with 13,000 new cases being diagnosed each year in the United States. Although it is a fast-moving cancer, doctors know a lot about this type of tumor and are finding ways to fight it. Here are five things you need to know about glioblastomas: 1. What is a glioblastoma? A glioblastoma is a central nervous system tumor. It is formed in the supportive tissue of the spinal cord and brain and is typically found more often in adults. It is an astrocytic tumor, which means it begins in the star-shaped …

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Google+ Hangout: Coping with Cancer as a Young Adult

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Karen Fasciano, PsyD, director of the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber, recently joined young adults with cancer from across the country for a Google+ Hangout to discuss the challenges of facing cancer as a young person. “Cancer is different when you are building your adult life,” said Fasciano. “[Cancer] can cause high levels of emotional distress – sadness, anxiety – which can be somewhat overwhelming. Often young adults need help coming up with new coping strategies.” Heidi Floyd (@followheidi), Bret Hoekema (@brethoekema), Allie Morse (@allieemorse), Renee Nicholas (@reneenicholas), Alex Niles (@alxniles), and Tara Shuman (@tarashuman) joined Fasciano on July 30 …

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How Reiki and Qigong Can Help Cancer Patients

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Cancer therapy can take a toll on one’s body and mind. Thankfully, there are a variety of integrative therapies that, together with traditional medicine, can help patients feel better during treatment. Through the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, Dana-Farber offers therapies such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, yoga, and creative arts and music therapy, as well as lesser-known practices, including reiki and qigong. What is Reiki? Reiki involves allowing the universal life energy believed to surround and inhabit the body to help ease anxiety and promote relaxation. During reiki sessions, master practitioners gently place their hands on or above …

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