What Is a Cancer Vaccine?

GettyImages-103919215

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 …

Continue reading

Fighting Cancer by Day, Fighting for Cancer Research by Night

By John Quackenbush, PhD Everyone at Dana-Farber knows me as a scientist. Maybe a little crazy, but dedicated to cracking the code that drives cancer. And everyone who has spent time with me knows that I can talk (seemingly endlessly) about my work. But today I am going to share a different story about an unlikely boxer, ready to give and take punches to raise money for cancer research. I remember the evening in August when I sat down with my family after dinner to explain what I was thinking about doing and to ask their permission because I knew …

Continue reading

The Best Foods and Diet for Cancer Treatment and Survivorship

SMALL_KRR_IMG_0575_15

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 …

Continue reading

For ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Star Uzo Aduba, Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Is Personal

Uzo Aduba

Emmy Award-winning actress and Medfield, Mass., native Uzo Aduba has won numerous accolades for her portrayal of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on the Netflix original series, “Orange Is the New Black.” On April 20, Aduba’s fans will be cheering her on as she tackles a new role – running her first Boston Marathon® to support cancer research as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC). “Running the Boston Marathon has been a lifelong dream, and I am proud to be supporting Dana-Farber as I make this dream come true on April 20,” says Aduba. “As someone who grew up outside …

Continue reading

What Specialists Does a Child See When Diagnosed with Cancer?

20140904_JimmyFundClinic-57

Physicians tend to move quickly when a child is diagnosed with cancer. That’s because some of the most common types of childhood cancers (such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), neuroblastoma, and brain tumors) can appear in a matter of days or weeks and progress rapidly. In such cases, prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are an important part of the treatment plan. So, too, are the specialists a child will see from a first visit onward. At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, a child diagnosed with cancer will usually start by getting a series of medical tests, which …

Continue reading

Scientific ‘Salvage’ Project Advances Understanding of AML

SMALL_Drs. Richard Stone, Donna Neuberg, Coleman Lindsley, and Ben Ebert in lab.

It looked like a scientific dead end – a clinical trial that found no benefit to a potential drug for a form of leukemia. But, like police detectives working a cold case, Dana-Farber scientists gathered hundreds of tissue samples that had been collected for the study – most of them languishing in laboratory cabinets, destined for disposal – and analyzed their molecular makeup. The result was discovery of a distinct genetic subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that often has a worse prognosis than other forms but is rich in targets for new “smart” drugs. The research, published in the …

Continue reading

What Is It Like to Enroll in a Clinical Trial?

When Elizabeth Cahn was presented with her treatment options for triple-negative breast cancer, the decision was about more than just getting healthy; it was about “paying it forward.” “I know there are many people who participated in clinical trials before I came along and it was because of their participation that researchers were able to create a new combination of chemotherapy drugs available to me,” says Cahn. “It made me feel like I was part of a much bigger world of people trying to make the patient experience better.” Cahn (@ElizabethCahn) recently discussed her clinical trial experience during a live …

Continue reading

Chronicling Cancer Research in Books and Film

david nathan, md

In two recent books and the Ken Burns TV documentary, “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies”, prominent researchers explain eloquently why cancer is such a stubborn problem and detail how the latest treatment strategies are gaining ground – if slowly. “There have been so many wonderful changes,” says David G. Nathan, MD, president emeritus of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a noted pioneer in treating inherited blood disorders . “But I try to make people understand that they have to be patient; it’s slow, steady progress, but we’ll get there.” In Nathan’s 2007 book, “The Cancer Treatment Revolution,” he describes the …

Continue reading

Answers to Common Questions About Stem Cell Transplants

SOG_3975_10

Stem cell transplantation can be a life-saving treatment option for patients with blood cancers or disorders. The procedure, sometimes called bone marrow transplantation, replaces bone marrow that doesn’t work correctly or has been damaged by disease. We spoke with Joseph Antin, MD, co-chief of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, to learn more about this procedure: Why might I need a stem cell transplant? You might need a stem cell transplant if your bone marrow can’t make enough blood cells or if it produces abnormal blood cells, usually because it is damaged by disease. For …

Continue reading

Which U.S. States Have the Highest Cancer Rates? [Infographic]

cancer rates by state

In a country as geographically vast as the United States, and with a large and mobile population, it’s not surprising that cancer rates vary by region, by state – and even by localities within states. Geographical differences exist in overall cancer rates and in specific types of cancer, according to a 2014 study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, breast cancer incidence rates are highest in the Northeast, followed by the Midwest and the South. But death rates from breast cancer are highest in the Midwest, followed by the South and the West. Lung …

Continue reading