Those passing them in the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care at Dana-Farber may assume Pamela Desmarais is a dutiful daughter taking her elderly father to his appointments. They certainly look the part, but while Pamela Desmarais cares for 84-year-old prostate cancer patient Donald Segur, there is no familial bond between […]
The below interview with patient Fernando Morales was featured in the 2014 Spring/Summer issue of Dana-Farber’s Paths of Progress, now available as a free app for iPad. My cancer diagnosis came right smack in the middle of high school. I was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in March 2011, my sophomore year. I […]
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jennifer Ligibel, MD, recently partnered with CancerConnect to answer questions about breast cancer, exercise and diet. Ligibel is an oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Q: I am currently on maintenance treatment for breast cancer and I need to lose weight. […]
Frequent visitors of Insight might have noticed a revised look to the blog. We recently rolled out the refreshed design with a cleaner look and layout. We also added a few new features, including an email subscription option. You’ll find that sign-up tool in the blue bar above, and also […]
By Jenn Perry When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36, it was like déjà vu for my family. My mother had been diagnosed with the same disease at the same age, while pregnant with her third child. I learned I had breast cancer just six months after giving […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Young adults often have their sights set on the future, anticipating college, working at their dream job, or traveling. One place they don’t plan to be is in an infusion chair undergoing cancer treatment. Cancer disrupts everyone, but especially adults age 18-34 who are growing into adulthood and starting careers […]
With Memorial Day approaching, we’re all looking forward to getting outside with family and friends to enjoy barbecues. Although hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato salad are staples at these affairs, it’s important to keep an eye on the things you’re eating and make healthy choices when possible. In general, try […]
By Kat Caverly In the book “Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient” Norman Cousins explains that creativity is an effective therapy. I devoured this book during one of my three-hour chemotherapy infusions of Taxol. I was filled with such hope. I knew then I would be fine. […]
Every year, about 4,700 children in the United States are diagnosed with brain cancer – making it the most common solid tumor in children. It is also one of the most difficult cancers to treat. Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children under age 10 and […]
It’s well known that many chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer can bring undesirable side effects, such as hair loss, lack of appetite, and fatigue. But experiencing such symptoms is not an indication of whether cancer treatment is working. Chemotherapy interferes with a cell’s ability to grow and divide, so […]
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a viral respiratory illness has been in the news a lot lately. MERS, first detected in Saudia Arabia in 2012, is caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV). It isn’t known exactly where the virus comes from though many infectious disease […]
Many people consider skin cancer to be synonymous with melanoma. As May marks Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, it is important to understand that melanoma is only one type of skin cancer; other forms of the disease are less aggressive and more common. Melanoma is the rarest form of […]
By Gerardo Martinez In May 2013, I had surgery to rid my body of that insidious monster we know as cancer. It was a particularly difficult time. I struggled to make sense of the irony of being diagnosed at the same age my dear mother was when she was diagnosed […]
While visiting her obstetrician in May 2012, 30-year-old Meghan Martin received life-changing news. The mother of two, who was seven-months pregnant with her third boy, learned she had breast cancer. “My first thoughts were: Will this baby live? Will I Live? Who is going to read bedtime stores?” Martin says. […]
Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are some of the most effective treatments for post-menopausal women with hormonally sensitive breast cancer, such as estrogen-positive breast cancer. Compared to tamoxifen, AIs like Arimidex, Aromasin, and Femara are less likely to cause blood clots or raise the risk of endometrial cancer. The drug also helps reduce […]
Although skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, melanoma accounts for less than 2 percent of all skin cancer cases. The disease, which will be diagnosed in around 76,000 Americans in 2014, is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which […]
Cognitive dysfunction is a common and frustrating side effect for many patients who undergo chemotherapy. The condition – also called “chemobrain” – can create problems with memory, attention and concentration, information processing, and mental skills used for organizing and scheduling. For many years, medical professionals were skeptical that these cognitive issues were […]
Ten years ago researchers at Dana-Farber and in Japan published a study showing that lung cancer patients whose tumors had a malfunctioning version of a protein called Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) responded dramatically to a drug that specifically targets the EGFR protein. The findings launched the era of precision […]
A group of influential theater owners known as the Variety Club of New England were touring Boston Children’s Hospital in 1947 when they happened upon a tiny basement laboratory. Here, Sidney Farber, MD, was conducting research that would lead to the first remissions in pediatric leukemia. The men were so impressed […]
If the new era of “targeted” cancer drugs and personalized treatments for patients realizes its promise, the power of genomics will get a lot of the credit. Genomics is one of the most commonly heard terms in cancer research and biotech companies today – but what does it really mean? […]
By Tim O’Neill In 2006, my then 33-years-young wife, Kirsten, was diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer. Her diagnosis was completely unexpected; she was young, a non-smoker and in overall good health. She had chemotherapy and multiple surgeries. Thankfully, we navigated the treatment with an excellent team of healthcare providers, […]
Reports of an experimental drug that slowed advanced breast cancer in a clinical trial have stirred excitement at a national research meeting and breathed new life into a cancer-fighting strategy that had seemed to falter. In one study, the drug, palbociclib, doubled the length of time without disease progression in […]
When 15-year-old Karina Moreira sat down with Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen in December 2013, the two traded beauty tips, talked fashion, and took turns applying makeup. They spoke in their native Portuguese and laughed with family and friends. The experience, Moreira says, one that she will remember for the rest […]
For more than five years, Sally Boyd had repeated needle punctures in her arm for blood draws, chemotherapy, and other procedures for multiple myeloma. “The nurses said I had good veins, so at first it was easy for them to insert the needle,” Boyd recalls. “But as time went on, […]
It’s been suggested that regular use of talcum powder products in the genital area might increase the possibility of ovarian cancer. In theory, particles of talc could travel through the reproductive tract to the ovaries and cause cancer. Research on this potential link has yielded mixed findings, with some studies […]
One of the most difficult aspects of having cancer is deciding who to tell and when. For young adults who may be attending college, maintaining an active social life, or starting a family, these questions are especially critical. Karen Fasciano, PsyD, and her colleagues in the Young Adult Program at […]
Although it is not a common disease, esophageal cancer affects about 18,000 new patients each year in the United States. Typically, the disease is found more often in men than in women, with men having about a ten-fold higher risk of developing esophageal cancer. “Esophageal and gastric cancers are some […]
Cancer patients are at a higher risk than the general population of developing serious blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the legs or pulmonary emboli in the lungs, which can be fatal.
A young woman in her prime, with a full life and meaningful career, does not expect a cancer diagnosis. But that is what happened to 34-year-old Erin, who received the news when she was in Paris with her mother and sister, on a long-awaited trip to celebrate Mother’s Day.
By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD For cancer patients, a healthy, balanced diet is important for managing symptoms and promoting survivorship and overall wellness. But in a world where it’s nearly impossible to tell one fad diet from the next, it can be difficult to determine which foods are actually good […]
Their season starts today, and although the Boston Red Sox will have a lot of competition in their quest to repeat as World Series champions, fans can be certain of one thing: a continuation of the baseball team’s special bond with the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dating from […]
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in both men and women. It is also considered one of the more preventable cancers due to the effectiveness of screening. But which screening option is right for you?
By Tom Ulrich One of the hot trends in drug discovery could be called drug re-discovery: finding new uses for drugs that have already received FDA approval for a different indication. It’s an approach that allows researchers and clinicians to rapidly test potential treatments for rare or difficult-to-treat conditions. Because […]
The Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of the drug ibrutinib offers a major new option for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who tried at least one prior therapy, physicians say.
By Jack Coates In May 2001, I was diagnosed with medullablastoma. I was 19 years old and had just finished my freshman year at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. Medullablastoma is a cancer that affects the brain and the spine. I had three surgeries, 52 weeks of chemo, and […]
While there are slightly more incidences of colorectal cancer in men (71,860 new cases projected in the U.S. in 2014) than women (65,000), both men and women generally exhibit the same symptoms of the disease, according to Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, clinical director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology at […]
A cancer diagnosis brings more than physical challenges. Patients and loved ones must also manage the emotional toll that can come with it. Storytelling, through word, pictures or other creative expression, can be an effective way to deal with these emotions and help with the healing process. Some people look […]
Cancers of the vulva – the external portion of the female genitals – are diagnosed in approximately 4,700 women in the United States each year. While many patients can be cured by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, others – particularly those whose cancer has metastasized to other […]
A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel has recommended that a DNA test should be the primary screening tool for cervical cancer, rather than the traditional Pap smear. The DNA test detects the DNA of human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted infection that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. […]
It’s well known that excessive sunning and sunburns can foment the development of malignant melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer. Now, in a preliminary study, scientists have suggested that drinking alcohol may be an added risk factor for the disease.
Whether it’s before, during, or after cancer treatment, nutrition plays a critical role in a patient’s overall health. Certain foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, can help increase energy levels, support the immune system, and manage side effects. Dana-Farber (@DanaFarber) and HealthCentral (@healthcentral) hosted a live Twitter chat on nutrition […]
For many cancer patients and survivors, insomnia can be a troublesome side effect of living with cancer. There are many reasons why patients and survivors may have problems with sleep. Eric Zhou, PhD, a clinical fellow at Dana-Farber and research fellow at Harvard Medical School, explains why insomnia can be […]
By Cindy Coyle My husband Bill was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in January 2012. Needless to say it was a great shock to us and our three children, Billy, Sasha-Lee, and Jimmy. Looking back, I realize how two unlikely events guided us through his treatment and recovery: a tattoo and […]
Before any patient begins treatment for cancer, oncologists should discuss first- and second-degree family cancer history, according to new recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The ASCO recommendations, published recently, are the first to focus on family history and a person’s genetic risk of cancer.
Whether it’s yoga, meditation, massage, or nutrition counseling, integrative therapies can offer a wide range of benefits for patients. “The whole concept of integrative therapies is about improving the overall quality of life for cancer patients,” says David Rosenthal, MD, medical director of Dana-Farber’s Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. “Integrative […]
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S., with about 143,000 new patients diagnosed last year. But thanks to increased awareness about screenings, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years. “For the most part, colorectal cancer is a curable and […]
The number of deaths from breast cancer has dropped over the past decade in the United States, but around the world, especially in less-developed countries, the number is rising. A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2013 said 522,000 women died from breast cancer in 2012 – […]
Outcomes are gradually improving for patients who suffer from graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), one of the most serious complications of stem cell transplantation, and researchers are optimistic that further advances may be on the way.
By Bethany-Rose Daubman, MD As a palliative care physician, part of my job is to help foster communication among family members making difficult health care decisions. This often relates to end-of-life matters, a topic I’ve grown comfortable with. In the department of psychosocial oncology and palliative care at Dana-Farber, my colleagues […]
Not long ago, a diagnosis of multiple myeloma — a cancer of the bone marrow — carried with it a very poor prognosis, with median survival estimates of just two to three years. Now, thanks in large part to research and treatment advances at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), […]
Rumors of a link between deodorant/antiperspirant and breast cancer have been around for nearly 20 years. The theory is that by blocking sweat glands in the armpits (particularly in women who shave their underarms), antiperspirants allow toxic compounds to accumulate in the underarm lymph nodes near the breasts, prompting cancer to […]
Getting the nutrients your body needs isn’t always easy, especially when certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, may make food less desirable. Many people consider taking vitamins and supplements to ensure optimal health, but, according to Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, it is important to think about the benefits of […]
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 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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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:
Immunotherapy – stimulating the body’s defenses to recognize and destroy disease-causing cells and proteins – was dubbed the “breakthrough of the year” in 2013 by Science magazine. Dana-Farber researchers have contributed many important discoveries over the years about how the immune system works. Now, they are building on these insights […]
Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH, founded the Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) in 1997 to help ensure children who are living with life-threatening diseases like cancer, and their families, enjoy the best quality of life. The program, a part of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and the Department of […]
When cancer develops in someone with other diseases, it can be more serious, according to a recent annual report from several national cancer organizations. “Cancer does not occur in isolation,” says Lawrence Shulman, MD, in commenting on the report. “It occurs in a human being, who may have other medical problems.”
If you’ve ever donated blood or platelets, there’s a reasonable chance that your donation went to help a cancer patient. That’s because cancer and certain treatments can damage blood cells, which means some patients may need transfusions of one or more types of blood components:
Cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy, can make eating well and enjoying food a challenge for many patients. Food may start to taste strange, appetite may diminish, and other symptoms, such as fatigue, bowel changes, nausea, and mouth sores, may make finding nutritious, delicious foods difficult. “During chemotherapy, it’s very common for […]
By Richard Saltus Though quite curable when diagnosed early, kidney cancer in advanced stages can become a stubborn disease. However, the outlook for patients with metastatic kidney cancer has brightened in the past several years. Oncologists have added to their arsenal a number of designer drugs that attack molecular targets […]
Chemotherapy and radiation are often prescribed because they are both very effective at destroying cells that grow rapidly, such as cancer cells. Unfortunately, they can also harm healthy cells that grow quickly, such as the cells lining the inside of your mouth. Patients undergoing chemo or radiation treatment often report […]
When it comes time for x-rays at the dentist, the technician or hygienist always covers the patient with a lead apron before leaving the room. This precaution often sparks the question as to whether the radiation from dental x-rays can increase the risk of cancer.
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