50 Years of Discovery: Advances in Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Robert Mayer SMALL

The fight against cancers of the digestive system – including colorectal, stomach, esophageal, hepatic, and pancreatic cancers – has made significant progress in the past 50 years, especially in prevention and early diagnosis of colorectal cancer, where screening with tests such as colonoscopies is continuing to make a major impact. “In some areas we have done better than others,” notes Robert J. Mayer, MD, former director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology at Dana-Farber. Mayer, a past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), led a recently published review commissioned by ASCO. Today, about two out of three colorectal …

Continue reading

How One Teacher Shared a Cancer Diagnosis with Her Students

Abby MorganSMALL

By Abby Morgan May 2013 was an exciting time for my husband and me.  We were in the process of buying our first house and thinking about starting a family. But, when a visit to the doctor to investigate pain in my right knee revealed a large mass, our excitement was quickly replaced with concern. After a series of tests, I was diagnosed with metastatic synovial sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer that had spread to my lungs. We were floored.  I had been healthy my entire life and had no other symptoms, but there I was, diagnosed at the age …

Continue reading

Five Things You Need to Know About Men’s Health/Cancer Screenings

SOG_7048_12

Cancer affects thousands of men across the United States every year, with the most common diagnoses coming in the form of prostate, colon, testicular, lung, and skin cancer. Not all cancers can be detected early on, but for some forms of the disease, the spread of cancer can be prevented through screenings. As June marks Men’s Health/Cancer Awareness Month, here are five things you need to know about men’s health screenings:   1. Prostate Cancer One in every six men is affected by prostate cancer, which most often affects men over age 50. In addition, age, family history, diet and lifestyle, …

Continue reading

What is a Phase I Clinical Trial?

4.18.14 breast cancer small

Nearly all cancer drugs in use today were developed through clinical trials. But before they are approved for use, they must go through multiple phases designed to test the drug’s safety and efficacy. These phases include preclinical, phase I, II, and III. In phase I clinical trials, investigators evaluate how often and how much of the drug should be given. These early trials are often small, enrolling between 15 and 100 patients, but are an essential step in the development of more effective cancer treatments. “People who enroll in phase I trials are helping us discover new treatment options for …

Continue reading

As Pediatric Cancer Survivors, Mother and Daughter Share Unique Bond

SOG_1740_14SMALL

  Jessica Tierney never thought she’d experience a harder moment than learning she had cancer at age 15 – until her 7-year-old daughter, Emma, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) last October. Emma is undergoing treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, just as Jessica did in 1991. “Emma already knew I had once been really sick, so I told her, ‘Look at me. I was treated a long time ago, and the medicine is even better now,” Jessica Tierney recalls of hearing her daughter’s diagnosis. Jessica is a survivor of acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, …

Continue reading

Webchat: The Latest in Breast Cancer Treatment and Research

With new approaches to therapy and increased understanding of the biology of cancer, breast cancer treatment has made significant progress in recent years. “I am personally very excited about what’s to come for breast cancer treatment,” says Eric Winer, MD, director of the Breast Oncology Program in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. “I think we will have drugs available in the clinic in the next several years that may have a dramatic impact on outcomes for women with breast cancer.” Winer discussed the latest in breast cancer treatment and research during a live video webchat …

Continue reading

What is a Meningioma?

200515753-001

A meningioma is a type of tumor that develops from the meninges, the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Most meningiomas (90 percent) are categorized as benign tumors, with the remaining 10 percent being atypical or malignant. In many cases, benign meningiomas grow slowly. This means that depending upon where it is located, a meningioma may reach a relatively large size before it causes symptoms. Meningiomas account for about 27 percent of primary brain tumors, making them the most common tumor of that type. With May marking Brain Tumor Awareness Month, we’re looking at some common questions about …

Continue reading

ASCO Recommends Tamoxifen for up to 10 Years

Harold_Burstein_SOG_7960_12SMALL

Women with hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer should be given the option to have adjuvant hormonal therapy for as long as 10 years, according to new guidelines issued today by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The updated guidelines reflect results from several large studies that showed women who took tamoxifen for 10 years had a lower risk of recurrence and a “survival advantage,” compared to women who took the drug for only five years. In a press release issued by ASCO, Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, a breast oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers …

Continue reading

Helping Patients with a Few Good Laughs

IMG_4078 (1)

As patients come through for their MRIs and CT scans, MJ Murphy, RN, BS, has roughly 15 minutes to sit and talk, discuss treatment, and hear updates on friends and family. It’s not much time, but Murphy always tries to coax a smile. “I love referring to the friends and family in the waiting room as the patient’s ‘fan club,” Murphy says. “It’s a small thing, but it makes them laugh.” Murphy, who is a nurse in Dana-Farber’s Department of Imaging, knows the importance humor during a time of high stress and anxiety. In 2004, she was diagnosed with melanoma. …

Continue reading

At Dana-Farber, Every Beam Tells a Story of Growth — and Survival

When Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was founded as the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation in 1947, childhood cancer was almost universally fatal. In the years since, as Dana-Farber’s researchers and clinicians have helped dramatically raise survival rates for many pediatric and adult cancers, its campus in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area has grown as well. Patients are the motivation for each new building that rises at Dana-Farber, and in the case of two recent structures, are even immortalized within – thanks to special bonds formed during their construction. After years of working first in a tiny basement laboratory and then in an apartment …

Continue reading