Progress and Promise in Prostate Cancer Research

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In prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men aside from skin cancer – scientists are working to answer some of the most basic questions about the disease while developing an array of new treatments.

Using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, doctors are often able to detect prostate cancer at an early stage. But it remains difficult to determine which prostate cancers are likely to spread – and therefore require aggressive treatment – and which are either idle or slow-growing, and can be dealt with by “observation or active surveillance.” This uncertainty could result in unnecessary treatment for some patients.

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Feedback Friday: How to Support Cancer Patients

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Cancer does not have to be a solo journey. Every diagnosis involves doctors, nurses, family members and friends. Sometimes, support from these people can give that extra push to get you through a chemo infusion, or another radiation treatment.

We recently asked our Facebook followers about the best support they’ve received as a patient, or provided as a caregiver. Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. Here is a sample of they had to say:

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Brokaw Diagnosis: What is Multiple Myeloma?

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NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, 74, revealed this week he has multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. The disease, also known as plasma cell myeloma, will be diagnosed in more than 24,000 Americans this year.

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How to Prevent and Manage Lymphedema

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Following radiation treatment or surgery to remove lymph nodes (lymphadenectomy), patients can develop lymphedema, a condition that involves abnormal swelling, usually in the arms or the legs, due to an accumulation of lymphatic fluids. This fluid buildup is caused by blockage or removal of lymph nodes or lymph vessels.

Lymphedema is often associated with breast cancer patients, but can result from treatment of other cancers, such as melanoma, prostate, or advanced gynecological cancer.

In addition to discomfort, lymphedema can also lead to infection, as the fluid buildup can increase bacteria growth. Pay attention to signs of infection, including pain, heat, swelling, rash blistering, redness, and fever. If you notice these symptoms, call your physician immediately.

Below are some ways to prevent infection and manage lymphedema symptoms that arise:

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Patient’s Grandson: How My Grandfather Inspires Me

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Many young boys have special relationships with their grandfathers. Few express their feelings as eloquently as young Oliver Parry. Inspired by his grandfather’s work and his battle with cancer, the nine-year-old penned the essay below, winning a regional award from the 2013-2014 Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Reflections contest, and potentially qualifying for a national competition.

Oliver’s story reminds us that cancer’s reach is wide, and it affects the patient’s whole family. The essay is as inspiring to us as Oliver’s grandfather is to him, particularly given the year that Oliver went through; the young boy lives in Newtown, Conn., and lost friends in the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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CVS to Rid Shelves of Tobacco Products: A ‘Powerful Signal’

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CVS Caremark announced this week it will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products in order to promote the health and well-being of its customers. The new policy will take effect October 1, 2014.

“This step sends a powerful signal that tobacco products have no place at a retail organization dedicated to health,” says Dana-Farber President Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD. “We hope that other retailers will see the enormous contribution they could make to the nation’s health if they were to join CVS in ridding their shelves of these products.”

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More Children are Developing Cancer, But Fewer are Dying from It

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By Tom Ulrich

Last month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) released “Cancer Statistics, 2014,” their annual estimate of new cancers diagnoses and deaths for the year ahead. The report was heavily focused on adult malignancies—not surprisingly, given that the number of adult cancer patients in the nation is orders of magnitudes greater than that of childhood patients—but did hold a few insights into childhood cancers.

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How Does Testicular Cancer Affect Fertility and Sexuality?

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Although there were fewer than 8,000 cases of testicular cancer in the United States in 2013, the disease often creates major concerns about fertility and sexuality for men of all ages.

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Five Things You Need to Know About Donating Bone Marrow

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Thousands of people who face life-threatening blood diseases, such as leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, require treatment with a stem cell transplantation (also referred to as a bone marrow transplantation). For many patients, the best treatment approach is an allogeneic transplant, in which healthy stem cells are collected from another person. The stem cell donor is selected based on how well his or her Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) markers match that of the patient.

Although a person’s HLA type is inherited from his or her parents, the likelihood of finding an HLA match with a family member is only 25 to 30 percent.

“Most people don’t have matched donors in the family, and if we’re going to provide stem cell transplants to cure these otherwise incurable diseases, we need to have a donor,” says Joseph Antin, MD, chief of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Adult Stem Cell Transplantation Program.

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Infographic: A Game Plan for Prostate Cancer

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With nearly 239,000 men in the United States diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013, it is important to have a game plan for prevention, screening and treatment. View the infographic below for more:

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