How Integrative Therapies Can Help Lung Cancer Patients

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Any cancer diagnosis and treatment can take a physical and emotional toll on patient. For many lung cancer patients, post-operative pain and muscle tension, as well as breathing and sleeping issues, are common side effects. To help ease some of these symptoms, patients can seek out integrative therapies, which can be used in conjunction with standard treatment. “Patients who participate in integrative therapies may experience fewer side effects of treatment and therefore, have a better quality of life,” says Bambi Mathay, MD, LMT, oncology massage therapist and reiki master practitioner at Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. Lung cancer …

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How Her ‘Cancer Family’ Helped One Young Adult Through Treatment

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By Christina Dixon Cancer turned my world upside-down overnight. I had just graduated from college, moved to Boston after finishing undergrad at Washington and Lee in Virginia, and started my dream job on an interest rate derivatives sales desk.  Suddenly, instead of working, spending time with my friends, and playing sports, my life was filled with PET scans, chemotherapy, and pain management to treat stage IVB Hodgkin lymphoma. I was just 22 and facing my mortality in a very real way. From the very beginning, I decided I wanted as much good as possible to come from cancer. I did not want to …

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Five Tips for Staying Active this Winter

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Staying active during the winter months can be difficult. Weather, packed holiday schedules, and fewer daylight hours can often get in the way of a regular fitness routine. For some cancer patients, lack of energy and a weakened immune system can also make it difficult to leave the house and stay active. But staying in shape doesn’t always have to mean heading to the gym or a fitness class. There are many exercises that can be done at home and adjusted to fit any skill or strength level. Nancy Campbell, MS, an exercise physiologist with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, provides tips …

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Immunotherapy, Ovarian Cancer Treatment Top List of 2014 Cancer Developments

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Immunotherapy, treatments for ovarian cancer, and investigating game-changing drug therapies topped the list of the most important cancer research and clinical developments at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2014. Here are some highlights from the last year in research: Hodgkin lymphoma Some of the most dramatic evidence of potential of immunotherapies was in the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma. In an early-phase clinical trial, research showed nivolumab, a drug that unleashes the immune system to attack cancer cells, achieved complete or partial remissions in Hodgkin lymphoma patients with resistant forms of the disease. The success of nivolumab in this study prompted the …

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New, Faster Test Speeds Up Treatment for Blood Cancers

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  Rapid Heme Panel, a new quick-turnaround genetic diagnostic test, at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), offers some patients with aggressive blood cancers faster diagnoses, and treatments. Instead of sending blood samples to different laboratories for tests that return results in two weeks or more, Rapid Heme Panel puts the results in doctors’ hands in about five business days. This shortcut can be critical for patients with fast-moving leukemia and other hematologic malignancies, say specialists at DF/BWCC. The new test was developed by researchers at DF/BWCC and launched in August. It uses next-generation DNA sequencing to analyze the genetic …

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FDA Approves New Treatment for Advanced Ovarian Cancer

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new treatment for women with advanced and recurrent ovarian cancer who test positive for the BRCA gene mutation. The new therapy, olaparib, will be used to treat women who have already received three or more lines of chemotherapy. The new therapy, which will be marketed under the name Lynparza, is a poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase – or PARP inhibitor – that hampers cancer cells’ ability to repair damaged DNA, potentially causing the cancer cells to die. Olaparib was approved along with a blood test called BRACAnalysis CDx that detects BRCA gene …

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Fertility After Breast Cancer

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Young women may think about having children, but when diagnosed with breast cancer, patients often face these decisions long before they thought they would have to. For Maggie Loucks, NP-C, who was diagnosed at age 28, preserving fertility became a major factor in deciding what treatment plan to pursue. “You’re 28-years old and you want to do everything you can to ensure this doesn’t come back, but at the same time you want to preserve your fertility as much as possible,” says Loucks, who sought care at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Although the process was …

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Survivor Uses Reiki and ‘Button Therapy’ to Help Others Facing Cancer

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As a girl, Paula Kaufman loved playing with the buttons that her grandmother, a seamstress, had in abundance. Later, while in treatment for stage III colorectal cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Kaufman – then a mother of three in her late 30s – gained strength from a jar of buttons her grandmother bequeathed to her. “When you have cancer, you feel like you’re hanging by a thread,” Kaufman explains. “The connections you make with other people are the buttons that pull you through.” Kaufman’s caregivers, family, and friends served as her buttons, and she drew further comfort from Reiki, a …

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Employee Elves Bring Holiday Cheer to Dana-Farber Patients

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For many, the holiday season is a time of gift-giving, warm meals, and celebration. But, for families with limited financial resources who are dealing with cancer treatment, the holidays can be overwhelming and stressful. That’s where Ellen Casey-Magleby and Deborah Toffler, MSW, LCSW, come in. Casey-Magleby, program administrator for Social Work, and Toffler, director of Patient and Family Programs and Services, lead Dana-Farber’s Seasonal Giving Program, which provides holiday support to current Dana-Farber patients and their families in need of financial assistance. The program is fueled by Institute employees and external donors, with the goal of giving patients gift cards …

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Tips and Advice for Taking Oral Chemotherapy

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By Thomas Kochanek, PhD When we think of chemotherapy, most of us imagine a cancer patient hooked up to an IV in a hospital setting, getting his or her treatment through infusion. While this image is accurate, cancer treatment increasingly takes place at home, as patients receive oral chemotherapy or other types of anti-cancer drugs through pills, tablets, and liquids. Infusion and oral chemo are not necessarily mutually exclusive, either. Many patients begin with one and transition to the other; others, like me, are on several drugs, receiving one by infusion and another by pill. Since I was diagnosed with multiple …

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