Like wombats and wildebeests, cancer cells are continually adapting to their environment. If that environment includes drugs meant to kill cancer cells, some cells may adapt so well, they eventually gain the ability to grow and divide in spite of those drugs – a process known as drug resistance. The result can be a resurgence of tumors that once were held in check by treatment.
Helping a loved one face cancer is never easy, but the challenge is especially daunting when the patient is your own child. Our clinicians at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center work with pediatric cancer patients and their families every day. Lisa Diller, MD, Anna Muriel, MD, and Jorge Fernandez, LCSW – offer these 9 tips for talking with your children about their illness.
by Erica Mayer, MD, MPH In 1974, when First Lady Betty Ford announced that she had undergone a mastectomy for breast cancer, it was a turning point in people’s willingness to talk about the disease. Prior to that, discussing cancer of any type, even with one’s family or friends, was often taboo. The First Lady’s openness about her cancer helped create a space in which women felt more comfortable talking about their experience – and about being screened for the disease.
Cancer scientists use a wide variety of techniques to study the growth and development of tumor cells. Laboratory research often focuses on individual cells or tissue samples, but to learn how cancers grow and respond to therapies in living organisms, scientists rely on other experimental models. In recent years, zebrafish have become the model of choice for studying many cancer types. Dana-Farber’s A. Thomas Look, MD, who uses zebrafish in his own work, explains why.
Alyssa Ywuc was a 23-year-old nursing student when she was diagnosed with leukemia. After seeing first-hand the work of oncology nurses as a patient, she decided to specialize in oncology nursing. We talked with Alyssa about both sides of the cancer experience – her time as a patient and her future career as a caregiver.
Aromatase inhibitors (AIs), such as Arimidex, Aromasin, and Femara, have proven to be more effective than previous hormonal treatments for treating both early and advanced breast cancer in post-menopausal women whose tumors are dependent on estrogen. Compared with tamoxifen, these drugs are less likely to cause blood clots or raise the risk of endometrial cancer. As a result, AIs are used both in patients with early breast cancer and in those with metastatic disease.