Screening Tips for Finding Skin Cancer Early

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As we peel off winter clothing and head for the beach, it’s a perfect time to learn about the benefits of screening exams for melanoma and other skin cancers. Preventing these cancers with sun safety awareness is important – but so is detecting skin lesions in their earliest, most treatable stage. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is now the fifth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common in women in the United States. About 42,670 melanoma cases in men and 31,200 in women are projected for 2015, with 9,940 deaths. It’s also the only preventable …

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ABC’s Dan Harris Shares His Journey to Mindfulness

ABC's Dan Harris

Mindfulness meditation is a simple, effective technique for relieving stress and focusing on the present, whether you’re a current cancer patient, a longtime survivor, or even “a fidgety news man.” This was the message delivered by Dan Harris, correspondent and co-anchor for ABC’s “Nightline” and “Good Morning America Weekend,” during the keynote speech at the 13th annual Lenny Lecture sponsored by Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, Adult Survivorship Program, and Perini Family Survivors’ Center. His talk centered on the powerful story of how he used 5-10 minutes of daily meditation to reduce the anxiety he felt in …

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Should Cancer Patients Avoid Fish Oil?

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When starting cancer treatment, patients often have many questions about diet and which foods may help, or hinder, their recovery. A recent study published in JAMA Oncology showed the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements reduced the effectiveness of chemotherapy in mice with cancer. We spoke with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, to learn more:   Should cancer patients avoid fish oil or certain kinds of fish during treatment? It’s important for patients to speak with their doctor and dietician about fish oil or any other supplement, and whether these supplements can affect …

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What Is a Cancer Vaccine?

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Cancer vaccines are medicines that spur the immune system’s natural defenses against cancer. They belong to a class of substances known as biological response modifiers, which strengthen or stimulate a basic bodily process – in this case, the immune system’s ability to detect and attack cancer cells. There are two broad types of cancer vaccines: Preventive vaccines, which are intended to prevent cancer from developing, and therapeutic vaccines, which treat an existing cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two preventive vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, for the prevention of cervical cancer. These work by the same general principle as …

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The Best Foods and Diet for Cancer Treatment and Survivorship

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Regardless of diagnosis, nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment. Foods and diet can help maintain overall health, control side effects, and sometimes prevent future medical problems. “Good nutrition plays a key role in cancer prevention as well as survivorship,” says Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, a nutritionist with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. “We don’t have to strive for perfection in our diets, but making small changes to what we eat can make a big difference.” Read more: Foods that Help Ease Cancer-Related Nausea Debunking Common Nutrition Myths Kennedy recently addressed some important questions about cancer and nutrition …

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Five Ways to Reduce Skin Cancer Risk this Winter

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Whether you’re escaping the chill with a tropical vacation or skiing the slopes, sun safety is still important in the winter months. Because UV rays can be harmful even in frosty temperatures, protecting your skin is a year-round responsibility. Allison Goddard, MD, of Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center for Skin (Cutaneous) Oncology, shares some wintertime sun safety tips to protect your skin and lower your risk for developing skin cancer: 1. Look for sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply to all exposed areas of skin, including neck, ears, and hands, and reapply every hour and a half that you …

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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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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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Can Melanoma Affect Any Skin Type?

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Melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, gets its name from the pigment-producing cells called melanocytes from which tumors can develop. These cells manufacture the dark pigment, melanin. When a human develops these cells, they populate not only the skin, but also other organs including the back of the eye and the nervous system. Melanin strongly absorbs sunlight and helps to protect the skin from ultraviolet light that damages DNA, which can contribute to the development of cancer. Because people with dark skin have more protective melanin, they are at lower risk of developing melanoma than those with light skin. However, it …

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Five Questions About Vitamin D

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Sometimes known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced by the body in response to sunlight, vitamin D is important for maintaining strong bones and ensuring healthy functioning of the lungs, cardiovascular system, immune system, and brain. Because of concerns that excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, some people may avoid spending much time outdoors – potentially lowering their vitamin D levels if they don’t get enough of the vitamin through diet or supplements. Here are some vitamin D basics:  How does vitamin D work in the body? It plays an important role in regulating the amounts of …

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