How to Care for a Partner with Cancer

Elaine and Patrick (Photo credit: Danny Sit)

By Patrick Steele Elaine needs a caregiver? That’s outrageous. She is a very independent and courageous woman. But as her husband and partner, I had to step into this role when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When Elaine and I first met in 2005, we stayed up late, telling stories. She showed me the scars on her shoulder where they’d cut out melanoma years before. I recall her words from that night like lines cut in glass. She told me nothing would stop her from grabbing everything she could. Was I willing to be with someone who had no …

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Ten Myths About Breast Cancer [Infographic]

breast cancer infographic

More than 230,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, making it the most common cancer among American women. With so many people affected by breast cancer, there is a lot of information — and unfortunately, misinformation — available. As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re dispelling the top ten myths about breast cancer. View the infographic below to learn more: More information on breast cancer treatment and research.

What’s the Link Between Cancer and Pesticides?


A study that found a sharply higher rate of breast cancer in women exposed to the pesticide DDT while in the womb has drawn renewed attention to the relationship between pesticide and herbicide exposure and cancer. The study, published earlier this year, tracked nearly 15,000 mothers, daughters, and granddaughters living in the San Francisco Bay area. Researchers measured DDT levels in the mothers of 118 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer by age 52, and in the mothers of 354 women without breast cancer. They found that daughters of women with the highest DDT exposures were 3.7 times more …

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Finding the Best Targets for Precision Cancer Treatment

cancer research

The inner world of a cancerous tumor is a place of intense rivalry, subversion, and aggression. Multiple subgroups of malignant cells – each with its own pattern of molecular features – vie with one another for nutrients, access to the blood supply, and room to grow and spread. This diversity, or “heterogeneity,” complicates efforts to develop drugs that target the abnormal proteins in tumor cells. With so many subsets of cancer cells to choose from, how can researchers know which ones represent the tumor’s Achilles’ heel – the ones that are the tumor’s greatest vulnerability? Researchers generally assumed that these …

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What Older Women Should Know About Breast Cancer

Pat Kartiganer and Eric Winer

American women have a 12 percent lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, the second most common cancer in women. While young women do get breast cancer, the disease is much more common in women aged 60 and older. Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, explains what older women should know about breast cancer: Menopause can impact breast cancer risk. The risk of breast cancer increases with age, and the age at which a woman enters menopause can also impact her risk. A woman who enters menopause …

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I Have Metastatic Breast Cancer: What’s My Prognosis?

Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH

By Rachel A. Freedman, MD, MPH Metastatic breast cancer generally means that the cancer has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes under the arm. For approximately 10 percent of women with breast cancer, the disease has metastasized when they are first diagnosed, but metastatic disease can also occur when cancer returns after previous treatment. The prognosis is not the same for all metastatic breast cancer patients and can vary tremendously based upon multiple factors, including your breast cancer subtype (such as estrogen receptor [or ER] status and human epidermal growth factor receptor [or HER2] status), the degree of …

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Do All BRCA Mutations Come with the Same Cancer Risk?

Gentic testing for breast and ovarian cancer patients.

Women born with mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 have an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, but the degree of increase depends on a variety of factors. Not all mutations within these genes raise the risk equally. A study published earlier this year tracked breast and ovarian cancer occurrences over a 75-year period in 31,000 women who had inherited mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2. The researchers found that mutations at either end of the BRCA1 gene increased the risk of breast cancer more than the risk of ovarian cancer. A group of mutations that occur in the middle …

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Coping with Breast Cancer as a Young Adult

Young women breast cancer Hangout

Young women with breast cancer face many unique emotional challenges: They may be in college, dating, starting a career, raising a family, or trying to start one. “Cancer disrupts many aspects of young adulthood such as family planning, careers, relationships, sexuality, and sexual health,” said Karen Fasciano, PsyD, clinical psychologist and director of Dana-Farber’s Young Adult Program, who recently joined four young women in different stages of breast cancer treatment to discuss their experiences. During a Google+ Hangout, Heidi Floyd, Nadia Tase, Danielle Ameden, and Beverly McKee, MSW, LCSW, shared with viewers the challenges they faced, ways they found support …

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How I Told My Young Children I Had Cancer

SMALL_Gabby Shear w Kids

By Gabby Spear When my doctor first told me I had breast cancer, there was almost no time to take it in. I called my husband Andy, told him, and then had to go pick up our older daughter, Emma, at after school care. We were going to temple for Friday night services, and as I was settling Emma and Molly in at the synagogue I was also calling my sister with the news. Right away, I learned a powerful lesson: even at the outset of your diagnosis, the world doesn’t stop. Life goes on and you need to go …

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What Are the Most Common Cancers in Men vs. Women? [Infographic]

SMALL_Screenshot 2015-06-18 13.17.49

Although men and women have different anatomies, they share some similarities in the types of cancers they develop. Colorectal cancer and lung cancer, for example, are common cancers developed by both men and women. The most common cancer differs in each gender, however; prostate cancer and breast cancer are the most prevalent in men and women, respectively. Learn more about the most common cancers in men vs. women in the infographic below: