What is Gestational Trophoblastic Disease?

Donald Goldstein, M.D.SMALL

Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD) is a rare disease where a group of tumors develops in the uterus after conception, leading to abnormal development of the placenta. It affects about 1 in 1,000 pregnancies. More than 80 percent of GTD cases are non-cancerous and all forms can be treated, with the majority of cases curable. Physicians with the New England Trophoblastic Disease Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), affiliated with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, have produced more than 300 original research reports and publications on GTD, which continue to help improve prevention, early …

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Marathon Motorcyclists Roll for Dana-Farber

Bikes Fred in Lucky Hat

Like many Dana-Farber Cancer Institute supporters, Fred Georgoulis walked 26.2 miles on Sunday in the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai. It was Georgoulis’ second trip in recent months down this course; his last was on a classic Harley Davidson FXRS. Georgoulis is the creator and director of the Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride, one of the Jimmy Fund’s newest events. For the past two summers, on the second Sunday in August, he and more than 1,000 other motorcycle enthusiasts have ridden the legendary Hopkinton-to-Copley Square route of the Boston Marathon® , raising money for research and patient care at Dana-Farber …

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What is Liposarcoma?

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Cancers known as sarcomas develop in the connective tissues, such as muscle, fat, and bone, that hold the body together. The type of sarcoma diagnosed in Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, liposarcoma, originates in fat cells that have been driven by random DNA errors into malignant growth, forming tumors. George Demetri, MD, Director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology, notes that while sarcomas are not a common form of cancer, they are not rare: about 10,000 sarcoma cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Liposarcomas, which most often affect middle-age and older adults, develop as large, bulky …

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Real Superheroes: A Teen Talks about What Happens When Both Parents Have Cancer

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By E.R. Seventeen-year-old E.R. reflects on both parents’ battles with cancer. For this post, E.R. and the family wished to remain anonymous.  Simply put, the role of a parent is to take on more roles. From lab coat supermodel and expert peanut-butter-and-jelly chef to personal shopper and bodyguard; parents do whatever it takes to provide for (and entertain) their children. This is why, to children, moms and dads are the real superheroes. Whether they’re flying in to save the city or magically appearing on your bad days, they swoop in just in time, every time. But every superhero has their …

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Advice from Mother and Son on Facing Cancer Together

Perry family

Hearing the words “you have cancer” can be hard enough, but what is it like to hear them echoed for a loved one? Having two cancer patients in one family calls for extra strength from everyone involved. Karen Perry was undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer when she and her husband Brian learned that their son Owen, then 11, had leukemia. He was hospitalized for five months at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “My knees buckled when I heard the news,” recalls Perry. “Learning Owen had cancer was harder than learning I had it.” The Perrys offer the following …

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What are the Main Types of Gynecologic Cancers?

DFBWCC, BREAST

Close to 100,000 women are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer in the United States each year. In recognition of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at the main types of gynecologic cancers and their symptoms. Cervical cancer In cervical cancer, cancer cells form in the tissues of the cervix, the lower, narrow end of the uterus. More than 12,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Unlike other gynecologic cancers, cervical cancer has a standard screening test, the Pap smear, during which a doctor takes a sample of cells from the cervix. Doctors may also test …

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How Robotics are Improving Treatment for Head and Neck Cancers

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Head and neck (oropharyngeal) cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the U.S., with nearly 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Though tobacco and alcohol use can raise the risk of developing the disease, exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) poses an even greater risk. People who have had an oral HPV infection have a 50 times greater risk of developing head and neck cancer versus the general population. Currently, nearly three quarters of head and neck tumors test positive for HPV. A growing number of these newly diagnosed cases are among men in their forties and fifties. Since the early …

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Woman Finds Inspiration for Jimmy Fund Walk While Traveling the Country

It all began as a way to celebrate being 65 and healthy. Barbara Sirvis had been getting herself into the best shape she had been in since retiring as a college president. She wanted to recognize her accomplishment by doing something big, something that she couldn’t have done before. After some convincing from her friend and veteran walker, Betty McEnaney, Sirvis had her challenge: the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai. That was year one, and Sirvis is now training for year four. But she no longer does it for herself; she does it for the patients and …

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New Immunotherapy Drug for Melanoma Wins Approval

Stephen Hodi, MD

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new type of  immunotherapy drug that will provide a much-needed option for patients with advanced or inoperable melanoma who no longer respond to other drugs – including the immunotherapy agent ipilimumab (Yervoy). The drug, pembrolizumab or MK-3745, will be marketed under the name  Keytruda. Based on impressive performance in clinical trials, the FDA had designated pembrolizumab a “breakthrough therapy” and placed it on a fast-tracked approval process. “This drug is exciting because of its really striking response rate and good indications that these responses are durable” for a least a year, says Patrick Ott, MD, PhD, clinical …

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Dentist Brings a Smile to Transplant Patients

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Like many family members of cancer patients, Stephen Matarazzo, DMD, wanted a meaningful way to thank the Dana-Farber caregivers who saved his son Michael’s life. What he came up with involved offering his own professional expertise to protect the smiles of others. A dentist based in Quincy, Mass., Matarazzo provides pro bono dental exams and services to cancer and benign hematology patients who, like his son did, need stem cell transplants. Dental visits are critical transplants suppress the immune system, and patients are at significant risk for developing infections – in some cases life-threatening ones. The oral cavity and teeth …

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