An Unclassified Tumor — with a Precisely Targeted Therapy

Early last year, at his home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jesus Apolinaris Cruz’s leg hurt so much he could barely sleep. “All day, it was constant pain,” the 13-year-old recalls. His parents took him to two local pediatricians, who examined him, drew blood, and tested his platelets. No diagnosis. Finally, in April 2016, a … Continued

The Latest Advances Against Hematologic Cancers

Treatment of blood-related, or hematologic, cancers is seizing on insights into the basic genetic wiring of cancer cells and the body’s system for finding and attacking those cells. Research presentations at the annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting in December gave evidence of how broad, and rapid, the progress is. Targeted therapies, new combinations … Continued

What To Know About Precision Cancer Medicine [Infographic]

Precision cancer medicine is an evolving approach to cancer care that personalizes treatment based on each patient’s unique genetic mutations. Since 2011, Dana-Farber has used its Profile research project, in partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, to gather adult and pediatric patients’ tumor tissues and detect genetic alterations that may hold … Continued

Colon Cancer on the Rise in Young Adults

Christina Crespi experienced extreme fatigue, weakness, and bowel changes for two years before doctors determined the cause of her symptoms: colon cancer. At 27, after many doctors’ visits, she was diagnosed with stage II colon cancer. She found the diagnosis “mind-blowing.” For Kara Stoughton, it was constipation that brought her to the doctor. She was … Continued

Do Childhood Leukemia Patients with Down Syndrome Need Modified Therapy?

Because of their increased susceptibility to the toxicities of chemotherapy, should ALL patients with Down syndrome receive modified treatment to minimize this risk? Or should they be given the same treatment as other children with ALL, to minimize the chance for relapse?

Exercise Shows Benefits for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Patients

Patients with metastatic colorectal cancer may be able to lower the risk of the disease worsening, and improve their chances of survival, if they engage in moderate daily exercise, according to new research by Dana-Farber investigators. The results of the research, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium, contradict the widespread … Continued

Can a Serum Biomarker Predict Response to Immunotherapy?

This post originally appeared on Cancer Research Catalyst, a blog from the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR). By Srivani Ravoori, PhD Immunotherapy, particularly a class of immunotherapeutics called immune checkpoint inhibitors, has transformed the treatment of several types of cancer in recent years. So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved immune … Continued

When Cancer Occurs in Someone Who Has Already Been Treated, How Do Doctors Determine Whether it’s a New Tumor or the Spread of the Earlier Tumor?

By Christopher Fletcher, MD, FRCPath Chief of Onco-Pathology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Vice Chair for Anatomic Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital   In order to determine whether a growth represents relapse of a previously diagnosed cancer or is a newly developed, separate tumor, doctors obtain a tissue sample from the patient and have it examined by … Continued

Study Shows New Drugs Expose Vulnerability of Breast Tumors

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” may be a valid philosophy in general, but not in dealing with the molecular machinery of cancer cells. There, the applicable motto might be might be, “If it’s broke, keep it that way.” That’s the approach taken by a class of targeted drugs known as PARP inhibitors, which … Continued

21st Century Cures Act Will Support ‘Revolutionary’ Cancer Research

On Dec. 13, President Barack Obama signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation that includes significant funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot, and to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed the drug approval process. Laurie Glimcher, MD, president and CEO of Dana-Farber, … Continued

A New Approach to Understanding Breast Cancer Treatment Resistance

By Srivani Ravoori, PhD, American Association for Cancer Research This post first appeared on the Cancer Today website. In a study presented Dec. 7 at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, researchers conducted genomic analysis of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive metastatic breast cancer samples that had become resistant to therapies. They found multiple alterations that were not … Continued

Dana-Farber Scientist ‘Rises from the Ashes’

Two decades ago, Dana-Farber blood cancer researcher Sophia Adamia, PhD, left her home in Georgia, a country with a turbulent past located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Not until last May did she return to Georgia, to participate in a conference organized by the State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues. … Continued

How Does Cancer Spread?

Cancer is most dangerous when it has spread, or metastasized, from its original site in the body. A tumor that began as an isolated mass – often treatable by surgery and/or radiation therapy – can become a dispersed, much more difficult to treat, malignancy. For cancer to spread, several steps must occur. As a result … Continued

ASCO 2016 Update: Immunotherapy and Melanoma

As one of the hottest topics in cancer research today, immunotherapy took center stage at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago. Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, a breast oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, recently sat down with other oncologists to break down … Continued

Why Is Liver Cancer on the Rise?

There was mostly good news in the most recent annual government report on cancer trends in the United States: Overall death rates, which have been dropping since the early 1990s, continued to decline between 2003 and 2012. But the report focused on a disturbing exception: The death rate for liver cancer during that same period … Continued

How Can Bioinformatics Help Advance Precision Cancer Care?

Scattered amongst the letters of genetic code in a tumor cell are telltale mutations and DNA alterations that spur its malignant activity. But there are billions of letters of code and each patient’s cancer is different, with its own particular genetic changes. These changes may dictate how it behaves, how aggressively the cancer progresses, and … Continued

Can Stress Affect Cancer?

Stress is generally defined as a condition in which the body or mind is placed under strain or tension. Stress is a normal part of life. In fact, studies show it to be a necessary part of life, prompting us to adapt and become more resilient. But if it becomes excessive, stress can have adverse … Continued

What Is a Liquid Biopsy?

A traditional biopsy is a test in which a piece of tissue is removed from a patient for analysis in a laboratory. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope, noting the shape, structure, and internal activity of the cells to determine whether the cells are cancerous and, if so, what type of cancer they … Continued