Genetic Testing, Cancer Risk, and Angelina Jolie’s Choice

Actress Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the headlines, but she stunned the world with her Op-Ed in The New York Times, in which she shared her very private decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. “I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” wrote Jolie. “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness.” But for Jolie, and many others, getting genetic testing and taking action may offer control and comfort. How do you know if genetic testing is right for you? …

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Five Reasons for Optimism about Pediatric Cancer Care and Research

By Stephen Sallan, MD Today, three quarters or more of all childhood cancer patients will be cured of their disease, a higher percentage than ever before. And the numbers will only get better as we learn more about the biology of childhood cancers and develop new ways of treating them.

A Cancer Survivor Runs for Her Miracle Children

by Naomi Funkhouser April 2011 was an auspicious month for Hilary Hall. The start of spring marked 15 years of her being cancer-free, as well as the anniversary of her bone marrow transplant in April 1996 at age 12 for acute myelogenous leukemia. It also marked the first time Hall would lace up her running shoes for the Boston Marathon. “When I heard about the marathon in October 2010, I instantly knew that this was how I would celebrate,” she says.

The Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund: A Winning Team for 60 Years

by Saul Wisnia Like many New Englanders, Fernando Morales can’t wait for Opening Day and the start of the baseball season. And, even if his favorite Boston Red Sox aren’t doing well, this 18-year-old high school senior from Norwood, Mass., says he’ll never waver in his devotion. He has good reason for his loyalty. As a patient at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund Clinic since April 2011, Morales has endured chemotherapy, shots, hair loss, and more for treatment of Ewing sarcoma, a tumor of the bone and soft tissue. He’s had to quit playing soccer and running track, but he’s …

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Five Ways to Support Families Dealing with Childhood Cancer

By Jane Roper When our five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) last summer, our world was turned upside down. Extended hospital stays, twice weekly clinic visits, the side effects of chemo and the constant possibility of unexpected hospital admissions mean stress and exhaustion for all of us. And looming in the background of it all is the unspoken worry: will our daughter get through this?

Better Coverage for Oral Chemo: Why It Matters

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 patient costs for oral chemotherapy, and it helps ensure that all forms of chemotherapy are accessible and affordable to Massachusetts cancer patients.

How to Protect Cancer Patients from Flu

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 higher.

Death Rates from Cancer Continue to Drop, Some Types Can Be Prevented

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.