What’s the Difference Between Melanoma and Skin Cancer?

Yawkey Center for Cancer Care healing garden.

Many people consider skin cancer to be synonymous with melanoma. As May marks Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, it is important to understand that melanoma is only one type of skin cancer; other forms of the disease are less aggressive and more common. Melanoma is the rarest form of skin cancer, with approximately 76,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. It is also the most aggressive, and is most likely to spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which are the cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis. Possible signs of …

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Melanoma: Five Things You Need to Know

Stephen Hodi, MD

Although skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, melanoma accounts for less than 2 percent of all skin cancer cases. The disease, which will be diagnosed in around 76,000 Americans in 2014, is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which are found on the lower part of the epidermis. The disease can occur anywhere on the body and usually begins in a mole. “It is important that people protect themselves from the sun and make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of melanoma to greatly reduce their risk of …

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When Should I Begin Regular Mammograms?

4.23.14 MammogramsSmall

For women weighing whether to have a mammogram for early detection of breast cancer, the findings of some recent studies can seem especially confusing. This month, a team of researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School published a review of recent mammography studies. They concluded that, for women in their 40s, the benefits of mammograms aren’t as great as they’re often touted to be, and the potential downsides – such as the likelihood of having a repeat screening or biopsy that doesn’t find cancer – are greater than for older women. The benefits of mammography vary with …

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Debunking Common Nutrition Myths

By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD For cancer patients, a healthy, balanced diet is important for managing symptoms and promoting survivorship and overall wellness. But in a world where it’s nearly impossible to tell one fad diet from the next, it can be difficult to determine which foods are actually good for you. We’re debunking some of the common myths about certain foods:

DNA Test May Offer Alternative to Pap Smear

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel has recommended that a DNA test should be the primary screening tool for cervical cancer, rather than the traditional Pap smear. The DNA test detects the DNA of human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted infection that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. “This is an important step forward for cervical cancer screening,” says Alexi Wright, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Specifically, the DNA test screens for HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two highest-risk HPV strains, as well as 12 other high-risk HPV …

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What Role Does Nutrition Play During Cancer Treatment: A Twitter Chat Recap

Whether it’s before, during, or after cancer treatment, nutrition plays a critical role in a patient’s overall health. Certain foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, can help increase energy levels, support the immune system, and manage side effects. Dana-Farber (@DanaFarber) and HealthCentral (@healthcentral) hosted a live Twitter chat on nutrition and cancer on March 12, 2014. The chat featured Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, as well as a large group of hospitals, nurses, dieticians, doctors, and patients. Some of the topics included tips for maintaining a balanced diet, how to manage side effects with food, how to lose weight …

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How Cancer Can Affect Sleep

For many cancer patients and survivors, insomnia can be a troublesome side effect of living with cancer. There are many reasons why patients and survivors may have problems with sleep. Eric Zhou, PhD, a clinical fellow at Dana-Farber and research fellow at Harvard Medical School, explains why insomnia can be linked to cancer and also discusses the best methods for getting some sleep.