Survivor, Hero, Battle: The Complicated Language of Cancer

The language of cancer

The language used to talk about cancer often focuses on battle words – those who are cured “won” or “survived,” while those who die from cancer “lost” their “fight.” But is cancer really something to be won or lost? Young adults with cancer discussed these phrases and others during the recent Young Adult Cancer Conference hosted by the Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber. Labeling your cancer, and yourself as a patient or survivor, is often one of the most challenging aspects of the cancer experience, they said. Loved ones and those without cancer often consider cancer patients “heroes,” but, as …

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Five Things You Need to Know About Head and Neck Cancer

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Head and neck cancers represent a group of cancers that affect the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, and mouth. While these diseases only represent 2.5 percent of new cancer cases in the U.S., they affect vital functions, including swallowing and speaking. Here are five things to know about head and neck cancer: 1. What are the risk factors? Individuals who drink alcohol, particularly beer or hard liquor, and use cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or smokeless tobacco, are at a higher risk for developing head and neck cancer. Risk also increases with age, particularly those over 45. Certain strains of the human papilloma …

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Running Boston: ‘The Only Way I Know How’

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By Eric Kaye If you were living under a rock this winter… that is, a rock buried by seven feet of snow like most people around Boston, here is what you might have missed. The Patriots won the Super Bowl, Zayn Malik left One Direction, and Boston set an all-time record for snowfall. Also, somewhere hidden behind the snow banks that narrowed the city sidewalks, runners were training for the Boston Marathon. This is my 8th year repeating a ritual march from Hopkinton to Boston on the third Monday in April. All eight Boston Marathons run the only way I …

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Should Cancer Patients Avoid Fish Oil?

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When starting cancer treatment, patients often have many questions about diet and which foods may help, or hinder, their recovery. A recent study published in JAMA Oncology showed the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements reduced the effectiveness of chemotherapy in mice with cancer. We spoke with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, to learn more:   Should cancer patients avoid fish oil or certain kinds of fish during treatment? It’s important for patients to speak with their doctor and dietician about fish oil or any other supplement, and whether these supplements can affect …

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What Is a Cancer Vaccine?

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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 …

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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 …

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The Best Foods and Diet for Cancer Treatment and Survivorship

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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 …

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

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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 …

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What Specialists Does a Child See When Diagnosed with Cancer?

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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 …

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Scientific ‘Salvage’ Project Advances Understanding of AML

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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 …

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