Combination therapy, the use of more than one type of therapy in treating a patient, is a hallmark of cancer treatment. The complexity of the disease – its tendency to spread beyond its original site and become resistant to certain drugs, and its genetic diversity – underscores the need for […]
Tumors can’t grow any larger than the size of a pinhead unless the body generates a network of new blood vessels to nourish them – a process known as angiogenesis. So using drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors to block this process is an ingenious strategy with many potential advantages over standard […]
“What should I bring with me to chemo?” It’s a common question. For many cancer patients, the answer is books, puzzles, or a good movie. For Monica Wright, it was her “chemobuddies.” Wright, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2015, and quickly found how comforting a friend’s presence […]
As researchers and clinicians in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber continue studying the benefits of a two-drug combination in slowing progression of recurrent ovarian cancer, one patient is as a beacon of hope for her caregivers – and for others facing the disease. Betsy Brauser, […]
Chemotherapy agents are powerful drugs used to treat cancer throughout the body. Chemotherapy drugs work by a variety of different mechanisms, but their general effect is to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, which divide and proliferate quickly. Because some types of healthy cells – such as those […]
Eagerly awaited new data from trials of immunotherapy drugs, vaccines to treat brain tumors, and improved treatments for blood cancers sparked waves of optimism at the year’s biggest cancer meeting. The 2015 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) drew about 30,000 cancer specialists to Chicago May […]
As cancer treatments advance, more patients are taking anti-cancer medications, including oral chemotherapy, at home. Unlike the traditional IV infusion chemotherapy given in a clinic, oral chemotherapy is a drug taken in tablet, capsule, or liquid form. It has the same benefits and risks as chemotherapy given by infusion. Oral chemotherapy […]
By Thomas Kochanek, PhD When we think of chemotherapy, most of us imagine a cancer patient hooked up to an IV in a hospital setting, getting his or her treatment through infusion. While this image is accurate, cancer treatment increasingly takes place at home, as patients receive oral chemotherapy or other […]
More than half of all people with cancer will get chemotherapy – powerful drugs that kill cancer cells to cure the disease, slow its growth, or reduce its symptoms. There are more than 100 different drugs used in chemotherapy, sometimes alone, but more often in combinations that have proven effective […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
Staying warm and healthy during the winter can be challenging for anyone in most parts of the country, but it can be especially difficult for cancer patients, particularly those who may be experiencing treatment-related neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a temporary or long-lasting nerve problem that may occur as a result […]
Cancer or blood disorder patients may have central lines, which make it easier to receive certain medications (such as chemotherapy) and have blood tests. The major types of central lines include Port-A-Cath, Hickman, and peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). Patients receiving stem cell transplants sometimes have central lines. If you have a central […]
By Richard Saltus Physicians have long recognized that the same disease can behave differently from one patient to another, and that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. In cancer, chemotherapy might dramatically shrink one lung tumor but prove ineffective against the same type of tumor in a different patient – even though […]
by Amy Atwood SWF, Bald, Undergoing Chemo and Radiation… Oh yeah, isn’t that the first profile you would click on if you were searching for the love of your life or even just a new ‘friend’ online? Dating in itself – or, I should say, finding someone to date – […]
While chemotherapy can kill cancer cells, certain chemotherapy drugs can also cause an uncomfortable and distressing condition that may produce numbness, tingling, and discomfort in the arms or legs. This condition, known as peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), can make it difficult for people to perform day-to-day activities. Although there is no sure prevention […]
by Richard Saltus Living with cancer is a physical and emotional challenge, but people may also find it hampers their thought processes and memory. Often the deficits are temporary, but sometimes they persist or appear months or years later as delayed effects. Cognitive difficulties, says Clare Humphreys, PhD, a neuropsychologist at […]
More than 70 years ago, two pharmacologists began looking at mustard gas as a possible treatment for lymphoma. The chemical, used during World War I, lowered blood counts and destroyed lymph nodes in soldiers who were exposed to the gas. Two decades after the war, a thoracic surgeon named Gustav […]
By Lori Buswell, RN I recently returned from a three-month rotation as a nurse fellow at a comprehensive cancer center at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, a tiny African country known as the “land of a thousand hills.” The hospital, built and operated by the Ministry of Health and Partners In […]
By Melanie Graham A diagnosis of ovarian cancer can raise a lot of questions. It can also raise many new medical terms, which your doctor or a member of your care team can explain. Here are a few terms to know.
By Kelley Tuthill Hair loss can be a jarring side effect of chemotherapy. When I was treated for breast cancer, I was nervous about my appearance and decided to wear a wig. At first it was a strange experience, but wearing a wig helped me face the day — and […]
by Richard Saltus One of the oldest healing practices in the world, acupuncture is beginning to have a role in alleviating pain and discomfort associated with cancer and its treatments. Acupuncturists use fine needles to penetrate the skin and stimulate – manually or electrically – specific points on the body. Stimulation […]
If you have your first chemotherapy appointment coming up, you’re likely thinking about a hundred things. In this short video, a Dana-Farber breast cancer patient walks us through the chemotherapy infusion process. If you’re anxious about your first chemo appointment, the video is a good place to start. If you’re […]
By Tara Shuman Before Oct. 31, 2012, I would have probably guessed that desensitization was a process invented by mental health professionals to make really sensitive people less sensitive. I might have inquired about the cost to put my four-year-old son through “desensitization” so that he wouldn’t throw such a […]
Not long ago, doctors were often skeptical when cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy complained that they were mentally foggy; unable to plan a week’s worth of meals or organize their finances as they could before. Patients called this side effect “chemobrain” and were frustrated by the lack of recognition […]
When Gov. Deval Patrick signed an oral chemotherapy parity bill into law on January 5, Massachusetts joined more than 20 states requiring health plans to cover oral cancer pills at a rate no less favorable than standard intravenous (IV) chemotherapy. The new law tells insurers that they cannot require higher […]
by Saul Weingart, MD, PhD Flu has arrived in the northeast with a vengeance. The City of Boston declared the flu epidemic a public health emergency. Perhaps someone you know has been sick with the flu. Influenza can be serious for anyone, but for a cancer patient, the stakes are […]
By Erica L. Mayer, MD, MPH There has been remarkable recent progress in identifying effective treatments for patients with metastatic breast cancer – that is, cancer that has spread beyond the breast and underarm lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
Steven Clifford is an 18-year-old osteosarcoma survivor. A Boston native, he starts college at the University of California, San Diego this month. This is his story. Life is made up of many difficult decisions. However, imagine my surprise when I had to make a tough and potentially life changing decision […]
For years, researchers have sought an avenue to deliver chemotherapy directly to retinoblastoma tumors – cancers of the retina of the eye, which primarily affect children under age 5. It turns out that the body itself offers just such a route.
Just as people may wheeze and itch in the presence of cats or pollen, a minority of cancer patients become allergic to the very drugs that are fighting their disease.
Every Sunday, the Cutter family holds a Chemofeast. The door to their home is open to any and all who wish to attend. It’s a day full of food, beverages, and a lot of laughter, and 15-year-old Blake Cutter gets to choose the menu. Then on Monday, his mother, Lois, […]
One of the easiest and most effective ways to help cancer patients is to give blood. There is a constant need for donations, but especially so in the summer when people are on vacation and unable to donate. One pint of blood can save up to two lives, and one […]
The dirt roads in northern Rwanda now lead to a cancer center where patients can receive care for a disease that was, until now, considered a death sentence there. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, which was dedicated on July 18, has allowed Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center to extend a […]
Recent concerns about availability and authenticity of certain drugs have generated news headlines worldwide and raised anxiety levels for some cancer patients and their families. Sylvia Bartel, RPh, MHP, Dana-Farber’s vice president of Pharmacy, says that although the cause of the two problems is unrelated, it underscores the need for […]
Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, a Dana-Farber breast cancer specialist, discusses some of the important studies presented at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The five-day meeting includes more than 1,000 scientific presentations, seminars, and posters, with a focus on emerging treatments in hard-to-treat populations, patients with metastatic […]