Making a date to help others

Two husband and wife teams set a date every two weeks to do something special together. Not dinner and a movie, or a romantic night on the town: Barbara and Arthur Miller and Geri and John Ryan come in to Dana-Farber’s Kraft Family Blood Donor Center every two weeks to donate life-saving platelets. Platelets are the clotting agents of the blood and are critical for helping cancer patients return to health. Here’s their story.  

Bringing cancer care to Rwanda

By Lawrence Shulman, MD Dana-Farber, with our partners Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, offers patients highly advanced treatments in modern facilities. Our patients also benefit from an excellent staff, clinical research, and extensive resources, and many of them survive cancer to live long and healthy lives. Is it fair, then, that cancer remains a death sentence elsewhere in the world? In Rwanda, for example, a country of 10 million people, cancer care has been completely unavailable to almost all patients. They die of cancers that could have been cured in Boston.

3 cancer drugs raise risk of fatal side effects

Treatment with three relatively new “targeted” cancer drugs has been linked to a slightly elevated chance of fatal side effects, according to a new analysis led by scientists at Dana-Farber. The study looked at three drugs: sorafenib (Nexavar), sunitinib (Sutent), and pazopanib (Votrient). Sorafenib is approved to treat kidney and liver cancer, sunitinib to treat kidney cancer and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), and pazopanib to treat kidney cancer. Dr. Toni Choueiri, the lead author of the study, says that patients should be aware of the risks and speak with their doctor.

World Cancer Day: Tips for prevention

As we recognize World Cancer Day today, it’s important to remember that one-third of cancer deaths worldwide are tied to lifestyle and diet, making them largely preventable. Dr. Judy Garber, director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention, provides some perspective, and highlights some of the steps individuals can take to reduce their cancer risk.    

Why you and your cancer care team are like the Patriots (or Giants)

The Super Bowl this weekend is the result of a lot of training and planning (and luck) on the part of the two competing teams. Players have to know their roles and everyone needs to work to the same game plan — and be ready to change tactics in an instant. In the same way, the specialists overseeing your cancer treatment and long-term care have their own areas of expertise, and you’re an important player on the team. Here’s why: Know your team Medical oncologists call the plays, determining the best options for treatment and guiding the care team. They …

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When Doctors Encounter Diseases without Names

The complicated meaty machine that is the human body can break down in a remarkable variety of ways. The 9th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) includes more than 16,000 afflictions – everything from the bite of a venomous tropical millipede to injury by falling spacecraft debris. With all of these dangers, it is truly a wonder that any of us can get out of bed in the morning. And yet any doctor who cares for patients knows that there are many other diseases that ICD-9 has never heard of – medical terra incognita, disorders that have yet to …

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Genetic counseling now recommended for children with sarcoma

If your son or daughter has been diagnosed with a type of sarcoma – a tumor in connective tissue like muscles or bones – there are many questions: Will my child make a full recovery? What are the immediate and long-term side effects of treatment? Most parents don’t consider whether their child will face a second cancer later in life. However, a link between sarcomas and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare condition that raises a person’s risk of developing one or more cancers to as high as 85 percent, has led genetic specialists at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center …

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The most talked about cancer stories of 2011

The face of cancer care in 2011 changed in encouraging and – in some cases – challenging ways. Here are some of the cancer stories that captured the most press attention in 2011.  A federal task force recommended against routine testing of healthy men for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which can be a sign of prostate cancer. However, Dana-Farber’s Philip Kantoff, MD, called the message “misguided” and said that oncologists are using the test to find those who may benefit from screening and treatment.

How to tell your boss you have cancer

Part of dealing with a new cancer diagnosis involves deciding how to let those around you know what’s happening. While you’ll probably want your loved ones to know about your diagnosis and treatment, deciding whether to tell your employer can be a more challenging process. Here are some tips if you’re weighing the decision to share your cancer diagnosis at work.

Will a bald Barbie help kids cope with cancer?

The side effects of chemotherapy can create anxiety and uncertainty for any patient, but for young children, it can be overwhelming. A group of parents – that now counts thousands of supporters – is hoping that their call for a new bald Barbie will help. Cori Liptak, PhD, a psychologist in the Pediatric Psychosocial Oncology Program at Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center, is part of a team that helps young patients manage pain and anxiety through play and behavioral therapy. She shared her thoughts on the subject during a recent interview with NBC. Tell us what you think. Would a bald Barbie help …

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