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. […]
By Tara Shuman Before Oct. 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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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?
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, […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
Bob Hurkett doesn’t know what became of the little girl he first heard of in 1998, but he thinks about her often. She was 5 years old and needed a bone marrow transplant. Hurkett and his wife, Jane, attended a donor drive hosted by the girl’s family where their blood […]
When Gov. Deval Patrick signed an oral chemotherapy parity bill into law on January 5, Massachusetts joined more than 20 states requiring health plans to cover oral cancer pills at a rate no less favorable than standard intravenous (IV) chemotherapy. The new law tells insurers that they cannot require higher […]
by Saul Weingart, MD, PhD Flu has arrived in the northeast with a vengeance. The City of Boston declared the flu epidemic a public health emergency. Perhaps someone you know has been sick with the flu. Influenza can be serious for anyone, but for a cancer patient, the stakes are […]
Faced with an abundance of cancer stories in the news and our own personal experiences with cancer, we may fear that there’s a growing “epidemic” of the disease. Not so. A new report says that overall, deaths from cancer are continuing to decline, as they have for nearly two decades.
by Nancy Campbell, MS “How soon can I start exercising after I start cancer treatment?” It’s a question I hear often from patients who visit me for a fitness consult or class at Dana-Farber. My answer? “As soon as possible.” While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise offers key benefits for […]
When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, she began learning as much as she could about her disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer: Up to 40 percent of women who have a lumpectomy require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often […]
When it comes to treating prostate cancer, proton radiotherapy (PRT) is no better than traditional intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), according to a new study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on Friday. PRT is an advanced but expensive treatment option for some prostate cancer patients. However, the […]
It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us – again. The stores are overflowing with holiday goods as families gear up for their celebrations. However, if someone you love has recently died, thinking about the holidays may bring you anguish. What were once happy times might now fill […]
by Laura Dominici, MD Mammograms are the most effective tool for screening women for breast cancer. But mammography isn’t perfect: it may be slightly less effective for women with dense breasts. About half of all women have fairly dense breasts, which contain relatively large amounts of fibrous and glandular tissue […]
What would happen if you were accidentally knocked unconscious and had to be taken to the emergency room? Would doctors know who to go to with questions about your care? A health care proxy form is a legal document that names a trusted person who can make medical decisions for […]
by Barbara Virchick On July 18, 2012, a Cancer Center of Excellence opened in Butaro, Rwanda, as a collaboration between Partners In Health and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. I was fortunate to have been there during this exciting time, working as part of a three-month fellowship to help train […]
Laura Ma remembers the moment nursing chose her. Upon earning her bachelor’s degree in art and sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz, she received her emergency teaching credential because of critical teacher shortages in the state. Three years later, she “felt like she needed something more,” Ma says. […]
As we approach the Thanksgiving meal, Dana-Farber nutritionists offer some easy tips for enjoying the holiday without packing on pounds. The average Thanksgiving dinner contains at least 3,000 calories. When you add in snacks, appetizers, and drinks throughout the day, you may end up consuming approximately 4,500 calories (two to three […]
While other kinds of cancer may receive more public attention, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths. There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell carcinoma and non-small cell carcinoma, both of which mainly affect people over 45 years old. We spoke with Bruce E. Johnson, MD […]
On Thanksgiving Day every year, Marc Kutzer and his sister, Roberta Klein, have much to be thankful for. In 2001, Kutzer went to his primary care physician for a routine physical. What his doctor discovered led Kutzer, 52, to Dana-Farber — and to a procedure he credits for saving not […]
With Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber has performed thousands of stem cell/bone marrow transplants for adult and pediatric patients with blood cancers and other serious illnesses. What’s the difference between these two terms? As it turns out, the only real distinction is in the method of […]
“Stay positive, I know it helps.” “What steps would you suggest I take to support my dad through all of this?” “I am a new member of this group.” These conversations are occurring online, at any time of day, in a community most people would not want to join: A […]
By Erica L. Mayer, MD, MPH There has been remarkable recent progress in identifying effective treatments for patients with metastatic breast cancer – that is, cancer that has spread beyond the breast and underarm lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
By Lola Baltzell I have been a metastatic breast cancer patient at Dana-Farber for over four years now. “Metastatic” means the cancer has spread beyond the breast. I have an amazing team of providers, especially my oncologist Ann Partridge and nurse practitioner Anne Kelly.
Alyssa Ywuc was a 23-year-old nursing student when she was diagnosed with leukemia. After seeing first-hand the work of oncology nurses as a patient, she decided to specialize in oncology nursing. We talked with Alyssa about both sides of the cancer experience – her time as a patient and her future […]
Aromatase inhibitors (AIs), such as Arimidex, Aromasin, and Femara, have proven to be more effective than previous hormonal treatments for treating both early and advanced breast cancer in post-menopausal women whose tumors are dependent on estrogen. Compared with tamoxifen, these drugs are less likely to cause blood clots or raise […]
By Lola Baltzell People often ask me: How do you manage to live with metastatic breast cancer? One of the most important strategies for me has been building a support network. My diagnosis of breast cancer that had already spread to my bones came out of the blue. I had […]
In 2012, it is estimated that more than 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be found, and over 15,000 women will die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. Unfortunately, in many cases the cancer isn’t detected until it is advanced. It’s important to recognize the symptoms […]
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and in recognition of that, we asked ovarian cancer survivor Margaret Winchester to share her story. After being diagnosed with advanced (stage IIIC) ovarian cancer in 2008, I chose Dana-Farber for my care because I knew about the Institute’s cutting-edge approach to cancer care […]
When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, your first reaction may be, “How can I help?” However, answering that question may be difficult. Some friends may be public about their health, and about what they need, while others may be more private.
A pill bottle isn’t the only option for relieving stress and discomfort caused by cancer and its treatments. Sometimes you can eat your way to feeling better. Dana-Farber nutrition expert Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, suggests some common foods that can pep you up, calm you down, relieve nausea, and potentially fight […]
Just as people may wheeze and itch in the presence of cats or pollen, a minority of cancer patients become allergic to the very drugs that are fighting their disease.
Every Sunday, the Cutter family holds a Chemofeast. The door to their home is open to any and all who wish to attend. It’s a day full of food, beverages, and a lot of laughter, and 15-year-old Blake Cutter gets to choose the menu. Then on Monday, his mother, Lois, […]
Award-winning photographer Richard Conboy understands the value of enjoying the moment, both in his pictures and in his life. Conboy had Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a teenager, and 40 years later, he beat colon cancer with the help of the Dana-Farber.
Their last names are practically identical. They are both fathers, and their oldest sons, now 6’3, were born on the same day – just two hours apart. “Blood brothers” Craig Johnson and Henrik Janssen had much to celebrate recently.
When we are sick, the kindness of others carries us through. Visits from those we love provide comfort, a hand to hold. But for Cindy Hale, healing meant limiting contact with family and friends. Hale underwent an allogeneic stem cell transplant at Dana-Farber in 2002, leaving her immunocompromised – with […]
One of the easiest and most effective ways to help cancer patients is to give blood. There is a constant need for donations, but especially so in the summer when people are on vacation and unable to donate. One pint of blood can save up to two lives, and one […]
By Karen Lee Sobol I recently learned that the word “patient” shares a Latin root with the word “compassion.” Any one of us can become a patient, for a number of reasons. For me, hearing a diagnosis of Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia flipped a switch. I became a patient in a big way.
If you’re diagnosed with cancer, you’ll probably get used to people asking about your health. And whether you’re fielding the concerns of well-meaning friends and family or the professional interests of your care team, you’ll gradually learn what responses to give. But many cancer patients and survivors choose to keep […]
For anyone who’s been out of circulation for a while, re-entering the world of dating can be awkward. It’s extra-challenging for cancer survivors. “Concerns about when to disclose health status, and the feeling that they don’t know how to deal with these questions, make dating relationships more difficult for cancer […]
The dirt roads in northern Rwanda now lead to a cancer center where patients can receive care for a disease that was, until now, considered a death sentence there. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which was dedicated on July 18, has allowed Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center to extend a […]
As recently as a decade ago, a visit to the hospital sometimes meant entering meant entering a cold, synthetic setting. But the tide is changing. A growing body of research indicates that creating what’s commonly called a “healing environment” – with features such as calming music, garden areas, artwork, and […]
Ben O’Clair was a college senior studying for finals when he first felt the twinges of pain in his side. A day later, the 21-year-old was in a hospital learning he had cancer. He left school immediately, moved back to his mother’s house in Holliston, Mass., and began arduous chemotherapy […]
The call of the beach is hard to ignore on sunny summer days. Yet many teens and young adults do not follow protection tips when they hit the sand. They remain the most difficult age group to convince that ultraviolet (UV) rays, which come from the sun and indoor tanning […]
Genes don’t cause cancer, but genetic mutations can. Our cells have about 22,000 genes, which consist of DNA packed into chromosomes inside the cell nucleus. These genes control a wide range of functions, including cell growth and division. When the genes misbehave or mutate, cancer can develop.
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. When I was discharged from the hospital in 1996 after undergoing a stem cell transplant to treat leukemia, I was terrified. Yes, I’d survived cancer treatment, but now I had to deal with something even scarier: the unknown. If you’ve recently […]
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. In 2008 I discovered that my breast cancer, in remission for several years, had spread to my bones. I had just turned 50 and made a list of things I wanted to try that year: ride a helicopter, taste sake, […]
In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship. The United States today is home to an estimated 12 million cancer survivors, thanks largely to advances in cancer treatment. But the end of treatment is not the end of the cancer experience. For many cancer survivors and caregivers, the […]
Musician Sheryl Crow announced on June 5 that she has a benign brain tumor known as a meningioma. Below, doctors from Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology describe this condition. The singer-songwriter, a breast cancer survivor, visited Dana-Farber in 2006. Meningiomas are tumors on the surface of the brain, spinal cord, and […]
When Good Morning America host Robin Roberts revealed that she has myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), she turned a spotlight on a group of blood disorders that affect an estimated 35,000 to 55,000 people in the United States. In patients with MDS, the bone marrow fails to produce normal quantities of blood cells […]
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer that affects young women more than older women. Because it’s relatively uncommon — it represents less than five percent of all breast cancer cases — people are often confused about what inflammatory breast cancer is and how […]
“I don’t believe that optimism can cure cancer, but I do believe one’s general health around the edges can make a difference.” Sam Donaldson, ABC News contributor, learned he had melanoma in 1997. Despite his diagnosis, he opted to stay positive and learn all he could about his disease. Now chairman […]
More than 600,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor — one that begins and stays in the brain — and over 60,000 adults and children will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. In recognition of May as Brain Tumor Awareness Month, we […]
Watch and wait. That’s often one of the new terms added to your vocabulary when you’re diagnosed with cancer. Or maybe it’s wait and watch. Or active monitoring. Whatever it’s called, sometimes it’s the term used when there’s nothing to do to treat your particular cancer but wait. That’s a hard […]
For people with cancer, deciding how, and what, to tell others about the diagnosis can be a challenge. How do you tell your loved ones, or your employer, that you have cancer? For parents, there’s another degree of difficulty: What do you say to your children? How much will they […]
Rebecca Byrne had waited years for a doctor to tell her, “You’re pregnant.” She never imagined that just a few months after she first heard those words, she would hear four more: “You have breast cancer.” Byrne still tears up when telling the story, but smiles when her 20-month-old daughter, […]
By James Bond “How long will I live?” I asked my oncologist in Ohio in 1992, when I was 44 and diagnosed with multiple myeloma. “Three years,” he answered. Instead, I enjoyed 10 more years of active living. Then my disease began to overtake me; my kidneys were failing, I […]
Bryan Reilly has a full-time job and a passion for exercise. He skis, climbs mountains, works out regularly, and runs a mile in under 8 minutes. Any 56-year-old could be proud of being so fit. But for Reilly, it’s a special triumph: Less than two years ago he was diagnosed […]
As a Dana-Farber employee planning events for the opening of Dana-Farber’s Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, I knew the building was designed with guidance from patients and families. But I had no idea how important this was until shortly after the building opened – and, newly diagnosed with acute t-cell […]
For most people, getting involved with a cause means thinking about what type of organization they’d like to support. But this is a story about what happens when a cause selects you – taps you on the shoulder and asks you to engage in battle. It began in 1998 when […]
March 4-10 is Patient Safety Awareness Week; at Dana-Farber, patient safety is at the top of our list 365 days a year. Here, we focus on one aspect of cancer treatment in which it’s especially important: radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is common – about two-thirds of all cancer patients can […]
If you’re over 50, have you been screened for colorectal cancer? If not, the month of March would be a great time to talk about screening with your doctor. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer in men and women in theUnited States. In 2012, an estimated 141,210 […]
If you’re supporting a friend or family member who is undergoing cancer treatment, you may not think of yourself as a “caregiver.” It’s a role that can be very rewarding, but also challenging and stressful. You may find yourself juggling an incredible range of duties above and beyond what you […]
Recent concerns about availability and authenticity of certain drugs have generated news headlines worldwide and raised anxiety levels for some cancer patients and their families. Sylvia Bartel, RPh, MHP, Dana-Farber’s vice president of Pharmacy, says that although the cause of the two problems is unrelated, it underscores the need for […]
Look closely at some of the steel beams that support Dana-Farber’s Yawkey Center for Cancer Care and you’ll see the names of patients spray-painted in bright colors by ironworkers during the building’s construction. These beams frame the building, but patients and families have lent far more than their names to […]
The complicated meaty machine that is the human body can break down in a remarkable variety of ways. The 9th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) includes more than 16,000 afflictions – everything from the bite of a venomous tropical millipede to injury by falling spacecraft debris. With all […]
Part of dealing with a new cancer diagnosis involves deciding how to let those around you know what’s happening. While you’ll probably want your loved ones to know about your diagnosis and treatment, deciding whether to tell your employer can be a more challenging process. Here are some tips if […]
A year ago today, I went to see my doctor about a lump that was growing scarily fast inside my mouth. Twelve days later, I was in a hospital bed with a cocktail of chemo drugs moving through an IV in my arm. Over the next few weeks, I adjusted […]
Traditionally, patients with oral cancers tended to be older individuals with a long history of smoking and heavy alcohol use. In the past decade, however, that picture has changed dramatically. Today, infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer in the U.S. and Western Europe. […]
Many women who discover a lump in their breast confide in a friend or family member before talking to their doctor. They may be told that if a breast lump hurts or is sore, it probably isn’t cancer. To find out whether this urban legend holds any truth, we checked with Beth Overmoyer, […]
Activated by sunlight and present in some foods and supplements, vitamin D has been associated with healthy bones and reducing the risk of diabetes and cancer. But a new study says that the recommended dose of vitamin D needed to reap these health benefits remains unclear. To help shed some […]
Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, a Dana-Farber breast cancer specialist, discusses some of the important studies presented at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The five-day meeting includes more than 1,000 scientific presentations, seminars, and posters, with a focus on emerging treatments in hard-to-treat populations, patients with metastatic […]
Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, was instrumental in the founding of Dana-Farber’s Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer, part of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. The program, which focuses on the unique needs of breast cancer patients under 40, helps patients access fertility, genetic screening, and counseling […]
The holidays can be a festive time, but for people dealing with cancer, they can also be stressful and full of anxiety. For many patients and their families, the thought of preparing for the season may be met with mixed emotions. And while parties and gift-giving often go hand-in-hand with […]