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 […]
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 […]
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether new treatments, diagnostic techniques, or disease-prevention strategies are safe and effective in patients. They may be an option when patients no longer benefit from standard therapies. They may also offer an alternative to standard therapies, particularly if the agent being tested is […]
Happy to have given birth in January 2015 to two seemingly healthy boys, Levi and Colton, after an uneventful pregnancy, Kala Looks gave little thought to the routine heel prick of newborn screening. At 23 and 24, she and her husband, Phillip, were high school sweethearts starting a family with […]
Ed. note: Niraparib (Zejula) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on March 28, 2017, as a maintenance therapy for women with ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer. This post was originally published on Oct. 21, 2016. For women with relapsed ovarian cancer that responds to platinum-based […]
When a clinical trial shows that a new treatment is no better than the standard, it can be disappointing. But such outcomes yield valuable, potentially lifesaving information. Trials can “fail” if the experimental therapy doesn’t work better than current treatments. These “negative” outcomes are important for several reasons. They can […]
When Cathy McCue, 44, tried to find words to tell her 8-year-old twin boys about her cancer, she turned to books like “Mom Has Cancer” and “Nowhere Hair.” Her own story began in June 2015, when she felt a pain in her right breast while at the gym. After finding […]
When Emily Coughlin complained of a sore knee in May 2009, doctors initially suspected Lyme disease. After antibiotics failed to relieve the pain, the girl, who was just shy of her fourth birthday, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer that begins in nerve cells outside the brain and usually affects […]
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, […]
Traditionally, the war on cancer has been waged from the outside in, with therapies such as surgery, radiation, and drugs entering the body from external sources. For more than 100 years, however, a notion has persisted that the most formidable tool against cancer may come from within: the immune system. […]
Kerri Antonuccio marked her 40th birthday this spring with a fresh lease on life. For the first time since 2012, she didn’t feel too sick from cancer treatment to enjoy her big day. She was also able to travel to Mexico and serve as matron of honor at her sister’s […]
When facing a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, patients often have many questions about clinical trials: Is a clinical trial right for me? When is a good time to consider a clinical trial? What types of treatments might be available? While there may be many questions about the process, the […]
Allison Schablein seems an unlikely candidate to teach medicine to Mark Kieran. She’s an 8–year-old New Hampshire second grader who loves basketball, hip hop, acrobatic dancing and jewelry. He’s a pediatric neuro-oncologist with a PhD in molecular biology, not to mention decades of clinical and research experience. But teach Kieran, […]
Clinical trials are a key part of medical science’s effort to improve treatments for cancer patients. There are a variety of different types of trials, including therapeutic clinical trials, which test the safety and effectiveness of potential new agents in patients. Some patients participate in several therapeutic clinical trials, in […]
It looked like a scientific dead end – a clinical trial that found no benefit to a potential drug for a form of leukemia. But, like police detectives working a cold case, Dana-Farber scientists gathered hundreds of tissue samples that had been collected for the study – most of them […]
When Elizabeth Cahn was presented with her treatment options for triple-negative breast cancer, the decision was about more than just getting healthy; it was about “paying it forward.” “I know there are many people who participated in clinical trials before I came along and it was because of their participation […]
Better cancer treatments depend on clinical trials of new drugs and other therapies, but in the United States, only 3 percent of cancer patients participate in these investigations of new therapies. Patients often hesitate to participate because they don’t understand the process or have misconceptions about what it means for […]
Cancers known as sarcomas develop in the connective tissues, such as muscle, fat, and bone, that hold the body together. The type of sarcoma diagnosed in Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, liposarcoma, originates in fat cells that have been driven by random DNA errors into malignant growth, forming tumors. George Demetri, […]
Head and neck cancers account for 3 to 5 percent of all cancers in the United States and can occur in the oral and nasal cavities, the sinuses, the throat, the larynx, the salivary glands, and the thyroid. When diagnosed early, many head and neck cancers can be cured with […]
Multiple myeloma is one of the most compelling examples of a cancer in which research has markedly improved the length and quality of patients’ lives in the last decade. A malignancy of certain white blood cells in the bone marrow known as plasma cells, myeloma is still considered incurable, but treatment […]
Nearly all cancer drugs in use today were developed through clinical trials. But before they are approved for use, they must go through multiple phases designed to test the drug’s safety and efficacy. These phases include preclinical, phase I, II, and III. In phase I clinical trials, investigators evaluate how […]
With new approaches to therapy and increased understanding of the biology of cancer, breast cancer treatment has made significant progress in recent years. “I am personally very excited about what’s to come for breast cancer treatment,” says Eric Winer, MD, director of the Breast Oncology Program in the Susan F. […]
Ten years ago researchers at Dana-Farber and in Japan published a study showing that lung cancer patients whose tumors had a malfunctioning version of a protein called Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) responded dramatically to a drug that specifically targets the EGFR protein. The findings launched the era of precision […]
Reports of an experimental drug that slowed advanced breast cancer in a clinical trial have stirred excitement at a national research meeting and breathed new life into a cancer-fighting strategy that had seemed to falter. In one study, the drug, palbociclib, doubled the length of time without disease progression in […]
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.
The Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of the drug ibrutinib offers a major new option for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who tried at least one prior therapy, physicians say.
Cancers of the vulva – the external portion of the female genitals – are diagnosed in approximately 4,700 women in the United States each year. While many patients can be cured by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, others – particularly those whose cancer has metastasized to other […]
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. […]
Not long ago, a diagnosis of multiple myeloma — a cancer of the bone marrow — carried with it a very poor prognosis, with median survival estimates of just two to three years. Now, thanks in large part to research and treatment advances at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), […]
In prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men aside from skin cancer – scientists are working to answer some of the most basic questions about the disease while developing an array of new treatments. Using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, doctors are often able to detect prostate […]
NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, 74, revealed this week he has multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. The disease, also known as plasma cell myeloma, will be diagnosed in more than 24,000 Americans this year.
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.”
The 36th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which ran from Dec. 10-14, brought news of significant advances against a disease that strikes more than 230,000 women and 2,000 men in the United States each year. The more than 1,000 research papers presented by thousands of scientists and physicians ranged […]
by Richard Saltus As recently as five years ago, progress in treating life-threatening malignant melanoma was slow. Since then, several molecularly targeted drugs have burst on the scene, and new strategies for awakening the immune system to attack the cancer cells have yielded dramatic long-term survival benefits for some patients. […]
As November marks Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, view the infographic below to learn more about the disease:
Current lymphoma therapies are a far cry from the mustard gas used more than 50 years ago. More treatment options, including ones that may be more effective and less toxic, are being studied in ongoing clinical trials. “Clinical trials really are the future of lymphoma treatment,” says Ann LaCasce, MD, […]
Breast cancer may develop in one part of the body, but it’s not just one disease. In fact, oncologists think of breast cancer as at least three different types of diseases. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) describes breast cancer cells that do not have estrogen, progesterone, or HER2 receptors. It makes […]
By Ursula Matulonis, MD After a long period of slow progress, new knowledge about the genetics of ovarian cancer is leading to the development and testing of new therapies. Researchers at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers will soon be launching several phase 3 clinical trials testing drugs […]
By Maura Perkins I can’t pinpoint when I started to get ovarian cancer symptoms. It was all very subtle and gradual. I was a healthy person. I ran, biked swam, hiked, and went to the gym regularly. A slight pain in my left side, difficulty digesting food, feeling of fullness, […]
By Christine Cleary The 21st century has seen great strides in treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow once considered a death sentence. In fact, thanks to research by Dana-Farber scientists, this blood cancer that took the lives of Geraldine Ferraro and Leonard P. Zakim has become […]
By Ian Krop, MD, PhD Clinical trials are scientific studies in which new treatments – drugs, diagnostic procedures, and other therapies – are tested in people to find out if they are safe and effective. Nearly all cancer drugs in use today were tested in clinical trials.
By Vish Viswanath, PhD News about advances in cancer research and treatment appears almost daily. The pace at which new findings are reported, coupled with the complexity of the underlying science, can make it difficult to know which studies are truly significant and which are less so. It’s easy to […]
One of the goals of the Rally for Medical Research, held in conjunction with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2013 Annual Meeting, earlier this month was to bring awareness to and education about the impact of the cuts in federal funding for medical research. Dana-Farber’s Kenneth C. Anderson, MD participated in the Rally. […]
by Robert Levy More than 18,000 cancer scientists from around the world are in Washington, D.C., this week for the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The meeting serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest discoveries in cancer research. The meeting […]
By Richard Saltus If the human genome – the complete set of DNA blueprints in a cell for building a human being — is truly “the book of life, ” as it has been called, then 99 percent of life’s book is gobbledygook. Only 1 percent of the DNA contains […]
By Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD The automatic budget cuts (or sequestration) that went into to effect as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, could have a chilling long-term effect on scientific research in the United States. The automatic cuts will slash 5.1 percent – or about […]
Most people seek opinions from experts when it comes to important matters, such as finances, children’s education, or a major purchase. Why not do so when it comes to your cancer treatment?
When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, she began learning as much as she could about her disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer: Up to 40 percent of women who have a lumpectomy require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often […]
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.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and in recognition of that, we asked ovarian cancer survivor Margaret Winchester to share her story. After being diagnosed with advanced (stage IIIC) ovarian cancer in 2008, I chose Dana-Farber for my care because I knew about the Institute’s cutting-edge approach to cancer care […]
By Karen Lee Sobol I recently learned that the word “patient” shares a Latin root with the word “compassion.” Any one of us can become a patient, for a number of reasons. For me, hearing a diagnosis of Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia flipped a switch. I became a patient in a big way.
Immunotherapy is one of the most technologically advanced yet basic forms of cancer treatment. It uses the body’s own defense mechanism, the immune system, to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is probably most familiar to you in the form of vaccinations for the flu, polio, chicken pox, and other contagious diseases. In […]
Hilary Olson had no reason to suspect that her daughter Hailey might have a brain tumor. “Her smile was starting to droop a little, and one of her eyes was a little jumpy,” says the 6-year-old’s mother. “We took her to see a neurologist, and he thought she might have […]
More than 600,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor — one that begins and stays in the brain — and over 60,000 adults and children will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. In recognition of May as Brain Tumor Awareness Month, we […]
By James Bond “How long will I live?” I asked my oncologist in Ohio in 1992, when I was 44 and diagnosed with multiple myeloma. “Three years,” he answered. Instead, I enjoyed 10 more years of active living. Then my disease began to overtake me; my kidneys were failing, I […]
When it comes to finding better drugs for cancer, Dana-Farber oncologist Dr. David Frank is not a patient man. While new cancer science promises to bring novel, improved therapies to the bedside, it can take many years — and Frank isn’t willing to wait. “We need to get new treatments […]
Activated by sunlight and present in some foods and supplements, vitamin D has been associated with healthy bones and reducing the risk of diabetes and cancer. But a new study says that the recommended dose of vitamin D needed to reap these health benefits remains unclear. To help shed some […]
At this year’s American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting, Dana-Farber scientists presented major findings that could one day improve diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers, extend life, or even cure some diseases. Among the highlights: Steven Treon, MD, PhD, and his colleagues identified a gene mutation that underlies the vast […]