Why pediatric survivor programs are so important

In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship.  When Dana-Farber launched its David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic nearly 20 years ago, it was one of the nation’s first programs dedicated to helping childhood cancer survivors. From the beginning, the pediatric survivorship clinic has been guided by clinic director Lisa Diller, MD, who is recognized globally for her contributions to cancer survivorship and pediatric oncology. The Perini clinic has developed resources that help survivors address issues such as the long-term effects of treatment, the risk of second cancers, and the psychological concerns of being a cancer survivor.

Teacher travels 600 miles for Dana-Farber care

In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship.  In 2008 I discovered that my breast cancer, in remission for several years, had spread to my bones. I had just turned 50 and made a list of things I wanted to try that year: ride a helicopter, taste sake, attend a political rally. Going back into cancer treatment was not on the list. My oncologist in Virginia suggested a consult with Eric Winer, MD, director of the Breast Oncology Center in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. After meeting with him I began traveling to Dana-Farber every …

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A comprehensive approach to care for cancer survivors

In celebration of Living Proof week, Insight honors cancer survivors with daily posts about survivorship.  The United States today is home to an estimated 12 million cancer survivors, thanks largely to advances in cancer treatment. But the end of treatment is not the end of the cancer experience. For many cancer survivors and caregivers, the years after cancer treatment can bring physical and psychological challenges, says Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, founder and director of Dana-Farber’s Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer and director of the Adult Survivorship Program.

Meningioma: A tumor on the edge of the brain

Musician Sheryl Crow announced on June 5 that she has a benign brain tumor known as a meningioma. Below, doctors from Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology describe this condition. The singer-songwriter, a breast cancer survivor, visited Dana-Farber in 2006. Meningiomas are tumors on the surface of the brain, spinal cord, and fluid spaces. They are the most common type of brain tumor, with approximately 55,000 new cases diagnosed annually in the United States.

Therapy dogs bring smiles to kids with cancer

With the pitter patter of small feet, Phil makes his way through the halls of Boston Children’s Hospital. He walks with a purpose, boarding the elevator that takes him to the oncology floor for his next appointment. Phil is a new face in 6 North, the oncology unit at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. A spunky pug mix who knows a trick or two, Phil is one of nine therapy dogs who visit pediatric patients at Boston Children’s Hospital as part of the Pawprints Program. What he lacks in medical credentials and size, he easily makes up for in …

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What is myelodysplastic syndrome?

When Good Morning America host Robin Roberts revealed that she has myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), she turned a spotlight on a group of blood disorders that affect an estimated 35,000 to 55,000 people in the United States. In patients with MDS, the bone marrow fails to produce normal quantities of blood cells and the cells themselves are often abnormal, resulting in anemia and an array of symptoms including paleness, fatigue, susceptibility to infections, and easy bruising or bleeding. The syndrome, of which there are at least 15,000 new diagnoses each year in the United States, formerly was known as “pre-leukemia” because about …

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Fact or fiction: symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer that affects young women more than older women.  Because it’s relatively uncommon — it represents less than five percent of all breast cancer cases — people are often confused about what inflammatory breast cancer is and how you can detect it. As a breast oncologist specializing in inflammatory breast cancer, I want to share some of the common myths to help you separate fact from fiction about IBC.

Science and serendipity: How the study of basic science leads to unexpected results

What’s a cancer scientist doing earning an award for diabetes or cardiovascular research? The two Dana-Farber scientists who received the prizes in early June say they are great examples of how research that isn’t tied to specific goals can lead to unanticipated discoveries in other areas. They argue that just as their unrestricted pursuit of scientific questions in cancer biology has paid off in two different fields of biomedicine – diabetes and heart disease – research that originally wasn’t related to cancer has shed light on the roots of malignant diseases.

What is immunotherapy for cancer?

Immunotherapy is one of the most technologically advanced yet basic forms of cancer treatment. It uses the body’s own defense mechanism, the immune system, to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is probably most familiar to you in the form of vaccinations for the flu, polio, chicken pox, and other contagious diseases. In those cases, people are injected with a dead or weakened form of the virus responsible for the disease. That prompts the immune system to produce antibodies and white blood cells that ward off infection from the live virus. For cancer prevention, two immune system-stimulating vaccines are now in use: one …

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A talk with Sam Donaldson, melanoma survivor

“I don’t believe that optimism can cure cancer, but I do believe one’s general health around the edges can make a difference.” Sam Donaldson, ABC News contributor, learned he had melanoma (a type of skin cancer) in 1997. Despite his diagnosis, he opted to stay positive and learn all he could about his disease. Now chairman of the foundation board at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), Donaldson also works with other cancer research on survivorship initiatives. He talked to us about what he learned, and shares some of his insights here.