Facts About Throat Cancer

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Throat cancer is one of many cancers that affect the head and neck area, including the nasopharynx, the area of the throat behind the nose; the oropharynx, middle part of the throat; the hypopharynx, the bottom section of the throat; the oral cavity where the tongue sits; and the larynx, the area of the throat used for speaking . While cancers in this region can be painful and complex, the majority of patients, 65-80 percent, survive, according to Robert Haddad, MD. “Treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach, with a supportive care team including nutritionists, speech language pathologists, oral medicine experts, social …

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Five Myths About Breast Cancer

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There’s a broad range of news and information about breast cancer online. That creates wonderful opportunities to learn about prevention, treatment, cures and recurrence. But it also means you may run into confusing misinformation and oversimplifications. Here are some popular misconceptions:   MYTH #1 Most breast cancer is hereditary. While it’s true that a woman’s risk factor for developing breast cancer doubles if a first-degree relative has the disease, this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story. In the vast majority of cases, breast cancer is not caused by an inherited gene defect (or mutation). Only 5 to 10 percent of breast …

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Melanoma: Five Things You Need to Know

Stephen Hodi, MD

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 are found on the lower part of the epidermis. The disease can occur anywhere on the body and usually begins in a mole. “It is important that people protect themselves from the sun and make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of melanoma to greatly reduce their risk of …

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DNA Test May Offer Alternative to Pap Smear

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. “This is an important step forward for cervical cancer screening,” says Alexi Wright, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Specifically, the DNA test screens for HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two highest-risk HPV strains, as well as 12 other high-risk HPV …

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Colorectal Cancer: Five Things You Need to Know

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 preventable disease,” says Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, clinical director of the Dana-Farber Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center. “We have very good data that shows screening prevents disease and saves lives.” With March marking Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, here are the answers to some key questions about the disease:

Is Cancer More Serious If You Also Have Another Disease?

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.”

Cervical Cancer Screenings: Five Things You Need to Know

Approximately 10,000-11,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. But with women having regular cervical cancer screenings, incidence and death rates from the disease have decreased by at least 80 percent in the U.S. “Cervical cancer in the U.S. has become less of a frequently diagnosed cancer because of the institution of the Pap smear,” says Ursula Matulonis, MD, medical director of Gynecologic Oncology at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. As January marks Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, here are five important questions about cervical cancer screening:

Can Eating an Alkaline Diet Lower My Risk of Getting Cancer?

Some people claim that if the fluids and tissues in your body become too acidic – that is, if the concentration of hydrogen in them is too high – your chance of developing cancer increases. Similar claims state that by reducing your intake of certain foods, you can lower your acidity levels, making the body more “alkaline” and less hospitable to cancer.

Easing the Way for Cancer Patients with Other Hardships

By Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH When cancer strikes someone who is already facing other hardships – for example, he or she is poor, alone, or has a language barrier – the experience is very different than it might be for someone who has more resources and support. The Cancer Care Equity Program at Dana-Farber, which is funded by the Kraft Family Foundation, helps vulnerable patients in the community obtain the cancer care they might not receive otherwise.