By Vish Viswanath, PhD News about advances in cancer research and treatment appears almost daily. The pace at which new findings are reported, coupled with the complexity of the underlying science, can make it difficult to know which studies are truly significant and which are less so. It’s easy to become confused when reports seem to have varying conclusions. Here are some tips for becoming a savvy consumer of cancer news.
by Richard Saltus People experiencing an unusual or particularly bad headache sometimes worry they might have a brain tumor. Headaches are very common and usually don’t signal a serious illness – but when should you be checked out by a doctor? We asked neuro-oncologists Lakshmi Nayak, MD, and Eudocia Quant Lee, MD, MPH from the Dana-Farber Center for Neuro-Oncology to review the red flags that warrant a medical follow up:
Millions of men each year have their blood tested for prostate specific antigen, or PSA, a normal protein whose levels may be elevated in men with prostate cancer or other benign diseases of the prostate. However, experts have disagreed on who should be tested, when and how frequently. Some are concerned about whether the benefits outweigh the risks of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. In fact, a federal advisory task force in 2012 recommended against routine PSA testing for healthy men – though many physicians disagreed.
by Eric Schuller For many cancer patients, the Internet serves as a vital tool used to stay in touch with loved ones during treatment, find comfort and advice from other patients and caregivers, or even research clinical trials. But using the Web to learn more about a cancer diagnosis or potential treatments requires a healthy dose of caution. For all of its many benefits, the Internet used unwisely can lead to scams and misinformation, as well.
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.
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. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 142,820 diagnoses of colorectal cancer in 2013 and 50,830 people will die of the disease. As many as 60 percent of colon cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone 50 years old or above underwent colonoscopies, according to the Centers for Disease …
By MacKenzie Kimball Good nutrition is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle and, according to Dana-Farber Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN, it can also help in the battle against cancer. “Good nutrition is really important for supporting a healthy immune system, which helps the healing process, and healthy eating can even help to alleviate side effects or symptoms related to cancer and treatment, such as fatigue, constipation, nausea, and mouth sores,” Kennedy says.
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, I was diagnosed with stage III multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. No search engine was adequate in comforting my fears of life expectancy, treatment, or facing a stark life-altering challenge.