Can Women Get More Than One Lumpectomy?

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For many women with localized breast cancer, a lumpectomy followed by breast radiation therapy may be the most effective treatment, with survival rates equal to a mastectomy. But if the cancer comes back, can women have additional lumpectomies? Women should not have a second lumpectomy in the same breast if they were previously treated with a lumpectomy and radiation, says Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS, director of Breast Surgical Services at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Instead, the standard course of treatment is a mastectomy (total removal of the breast), with or without reconstruction, to avoid …

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Childhood Cancer Patients Mark Hospital Departure with Bubbles

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Avery McAvoy’s last day in the hospital was a long-awaited milestone, but all the 2-year-old cared about was how it ended: with bubbles. After 12 months of treatment for neuroblastoma at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, much of which was spent on the inpatient oncology and hematology unit at Boston Children’s Hospital, Avery participated on a Friday afternoon last month in what has become a beloved discharge ritual for clinical staff and patient families. Lining both sides of the corridor outside her room, nurses and other caregivers cheered and blew bubbles as Avery and her parents walked past …

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Melanoma – What’s the Latest?

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Sun safety applies to everyone, regardless of skin color, gender, or age. That was the message emphasized in a recent live video webchat with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) dermatologist Jennifer Lin, MD. During the chat, Lin answered questions about the latest in melanoma treatment and prevention. “The bottom line is that UV radiation causes mutations in our genes, which can lead to cancer,” says Lin, who works in DF/BWCC’s Melanoma Treatment Center. “We have to live with the sun, so it’s important that we learn to limit exposure and minimize a lifetime risk of accumulating genetic mutations. ” …

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Family Ties: Why Genetics Matter

Genetics, cancer prevention

By Christine Hensel Triantos  On a cold winter day in 2002, Sharon Goyette stepped into Dana-Farber’s Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention. She was a 21-year-old college student, and this was the last place she wanted to be. But her mother had insisted. After developing colon cancer, Goyette’s mother had been diagnosed with Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), an inherited condition that increases the risk of many types of cancer, including colorectal, uterine, stomach, brain, and skin. Her colon cancer was now advanced, and she had pleaded with Goyette to undergo genetic testing to find out …

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Young Adult Shares Tips for Coping with Cancer

Young adult patients

By Carolyn Ridge On June 1, 2012, at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. The physical toll cancer took on my body was difficult, forcing me into early menopause, but I was even less prepared for the emotional side effects cancer would bring, including the depression I experienced throughout treatment. I am now dealing with a recurrence that was diagnosed in September 2014, but my reaction this time is different, because I am different. I have a care team I trust, cancer tools at my disposal, and, most importantly, I know that I’m not …

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Immunotherapy, Targeted Drugs, Brain Cancer Research Among Highlights at Cancer Meeting

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Eagerly awaited new data from trials of immunotherapy drugs, vaccines to treat brain tumors, and improved treatments for blood cancers sparked waves of optimism at the year’s biggest cancer meeting. The 2015 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) drew about 30,000 cancer specialists to Chicago May 29 – June 2. Immunotherapy, which uses drugs to block immune “checkpoints” such as PD-1 and PD-L1, allowing the patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells, drew standing-room-only audiences as researchers reported updated results in studies of melanoma, lung cancer, and brain cancer. Investigators from Dana-Farber and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer …

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Living Well with Chronic Breast Cancer

Duncan Finigan isn’t fond of the phrase “stage IV.” “I choose to call it treatable, non-curable cancer, or a chronic disease,” the mom of four says. Following a physical exam by a new gynecologist last October, Finigan expedited her December mammogram, which ultimately led to an MRI, ultrasound, and a diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer. “When I saw a surgeon, radiologist, and oncologist at Dana-Farber’s South Shore location, that’s when I learned my cancer had spread to my bones; I was now classified as stage IV and not a candidate for surgery, radiation, or standard chemotherapy,” she recalls. The …

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How the Body’s Immune System Can Fight Cancer

F. Stephen Hodi, MD

Immunology is one of the most promising areas of cancer treatment today. Immunotherapy drugs, which use the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer cells, have been effective in treating several forms of the disease, including melanoma, prostate cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, and certain types of brain tumors. The immune system has natural stopping points when fighting against bacteria and infection, which prevent the system from going after the body’s own cells and tissues. However, these “brakes” prevent the immune system from successfully attacking cancer cells and tumors. Immunotherapy drugs block those brakes, allowing the immune system to fight and destroy …

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Doctor’s Journey Out of Saigon Inspires Clinical Career

Vincent Ho with younger sister circa 1975

For some patients with blood cancers and related disorders, a stem cell transplant offers the possibility of a new beginning . Vincent Ho, MD, clinical director of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, is no stranger to this feeling of starting fresh. He had his own new beginning when he and his family emigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1978, three years after the fall of Saigon. “The day the war ended [April 30, 1975], I remember the tanks coming through the gates,” says Ho, who was interviewed as part of a special PBS …

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