Explaining the Complexities of Cancer

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This post originally appeared on Cancer Research Catalyst, the official blog of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).  Burgeoning understanding of the biology of cancer has led to advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment. These advances mean that a person diagnosed with cancer in the United States today has a greater chance of surviving their diagnosis than ever before. Despite the tremendous advances, almost 600,000 people in the United States are expected to die from cancer this year alone. We asked Eric Winer, MD, chief of the Division of Women’s Cancers and director of the Breast Oncology …

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Creating a Legacy with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Creating a legacy with metastatic breast cancer

This post originally appeared on Critical Mass as part of the 2015 National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. By Beth Fairchild My name is Beth Fairchild. In my former life, I was an artist, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend. Now, while I may still be all of these, I have added fearless fighter and breast cancer advocate to the list of things that make me, me. This is my new, cancer life. A year ago my life was pretty normal. My husband and I were successful business owners. We were raising our daughter and preparing to adopt another. I …

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New Study: Chemo Before Surgery Avoids Need for Mastectomy for Many with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

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Chemotherapy before surgery shrank triple-negative breast tumors in women in a clinical trial to the point where half of those who had not been eligible for breast-conserving surgery became eligible for it, according to investigators at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The findings were reported at the American Surgical Association annual meeting and in a study in the journal Annals of Surgery. The study involved 400 women participating in a phase 2 clinical trial of a combination chemotherapy regimen for triple-negative breast cancer, a malignancy whose cells lack receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and the protein HER2. …

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My Lifetime Movie: How Cancer Changed Me

Deb March 2015

By Deb Norris My life plays like a Lifetime movie. I was born tall, blonde, with big breasts (note – they later tried to kill me). I was the straight-A cheerleader who dated the captain of the football team and became a corporate executive.  Friends teased me that I lived a charmed life. Then at 38, I lost my husband to glioblastoma, the “deadliest of all brain tumors”. It was a 16-month fight that confirmed my belief that what does not kill you, makes you stronger. A couple years later, I reconnected with the football captain and married him for …

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Promising Research Developments Stir Hopes for Melanoma, Lung, Breast and Ovarian Cancer

F. Stephen Hodi, MD

The growing excitement about the potential of immunotherapy treatments for cancer continued at the 2015 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), one of the largest cancer research meetings of the year. Several Dana-Farber investigators presented encouraging results of immunotherapy for melanoma, lung cancer, and breast cancer. F. Stephen Hodi, MD, and Leena Gandhi, MD, gave reports on recently published results for immunotherapy trials in melanoma and lung cancer, respectively. Their findings were simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “This field has changed a lot in the past few years and even in the past …

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Angelina Jolie Puts Spotlight on Genetic Testing and Ovarian Cancer Risk

Once again Angelina Jolie is making headlines after penning another op-ed in The New York Times. The actress shared she has undergone more cancer preventive surgery – this time prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy, a procedure to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. Two years ago, she wrote about her decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy, a surgery to remove both breasts after her positive genetic test for the BRCA1 mutation. “It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue,” wrote Jolie. “You can seek advice, learn about the …

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Can Shorter Courses of Radiation Be Safe and Effective?

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  Radiation therapy, which uses radiation to kill cancer cells, is a common treatment option for breast cancer patients. After a lumpectomy, a standard course of radiation therapy with breast cancer lasts six weeks. A new option for some breast cancer patients uses slightly higher doses of radiation over a shorter period of time. Both the standard and shorter regimens require daily treatments, Monday through Friday for 15 to 20 minutes; however the shorter course (or “hypofractionated” course) lasts only three and a half weeks. This allows patients to spend more time at home, with their families, or at work. …

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Whirlwind Week Ends in Reassurance for Breast Cancer Patient

Breast cancer treatment

It was a Monday when Katie Lazdowski got the news no 33-year-old mother expects to hear: “You have breast cancer.” Waiting is never easy, but waiting to find out what’s next after a cancer diagnosis can be excruciating. After meeting with a local oncologist in Amherst, Mass., about two hours west of Boston, on Wednesday, Katie called Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. The next day she met with her treatment team, and had both a plan of attack and a sense of reassurance. “Once I met my team, I knew Dana-Farber was where I wanted to be,” says Katie, who …

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Forty Years After Introduction, Breast Cancer Prevention Drug Still Effective

Erica Mayer, MD

Nearly 40 years after its introduction, tamoxifen continues to prove its value as a breast cancer prevention drug. The most recent evidence comes from the International Breast Cancer Prevention Study 1 (IBIS-1), which for 20 years has been tracking breast cancer occurrence and survival rates in more than 7,000 women who had a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer at the time of enrolling in the study. Half the participants were randomly assigned to take tamoxifen for five years, while the other half took a placebo, or inactive pill, for the same period. (Participants didn’t know which pill they’d …

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FDA Approves New Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer

New drug approved for metastatic breast cancer

  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment  for women with advanced (metastatic) breast cancer. The new therapy, palbociclib, will be used to treat postmenopausal women with metastatic estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer who have not received previous treatment. Palbociclib, which is marketed under the name Ibrance, will be used in combination with another breast cancer drug, letrozole. “This is a new class of drugs that has been effective in treating this particular pathway in cancer, and it has improved outcomes for patients with advanced ER-positive breast cancer, one of the most common forms of the …

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