From Foe to Friend: Viruses Show New Promise as Cancer Treatment

SMALL Cancer Immunology & AIDS Team
Harvey Cantor

Almost as long as scientists have known of the existence of viruses, they’ve dreamed of using the tiny pathogens as a weapon against cancer. Now, as a result of advances in genetic engineering and insights into the workings of the immune system, science is giving substance to the dream. A variety of studies over the past few years have demonstrated the ability of specially modified viruses to attack and kill cancer cells – in the laboratory and, very recently, in some patients. Techniques vary from study to study, but the basic approach is to inject the viruses directly into tumors …

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Remembering My Father’s Journey with Multiple Myeloma

By Elise Renner There’s a 1-in-12 chance that this is the month yours or your loved one’s cancer is recognized—odds better than the survival rates for some of these diseases. Some months, like October, boast big names like breast cancer. Others, like September, are crowded with lesser-known branches of the disease. “Cancer apparel,” including ribbons and jewelry, is marketed with pretty colors, one for each type of cancer, and sold to raise money as well as awareness. For my dad, I would wear maroon. Multiple myeloma, maroon, March – whoever decided this must’ve been keen on alliteration. This month I …

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Tuukka Rask, Nutrition Tips, Brokaw on Cancer, and More Video Highlights from 2014

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As 2014 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite videos from the last year:     Tom Brokaw: What it Means to Have Cancer NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, stopped by Dana-Farber in November. We talked with him about his cancer experience and advice he has for fellow patients.   Why a Plant-Based Diet is Good for Your Health Eating a healthy, plant-based, balanced diet can help you manage your weight and may also help reduce your risk for developing certain cancers. Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy …

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The Latest Research and Treatment for Blood Cancers and Disorders

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In the treatment of blood cancers and disorders, doctors and researchers are focusing their sights on the immune system and how to bolster its ability to fight off diseases like leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. “Understanding how you control the immune system is a big theme in treatment for these diseases,” says David A. Williams, MD, chief of Hematology/Oncology and director of Clinical and Translational Research at Boston Children’s Hospital and associate chair of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber. “We’re increasingly understanding how cancer tones down the immune system, allowing us to design treatment to turn the immune system back up …

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Tips and Advice for Taking Oral Chemotherapy

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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 types of anti-cancer drugs through pills, tablets, and liquids. Infusion and oral chemo are not necessarily mutually exclusive, either. Many patients begin with one and transition to the other; others, like me, are on several drugs, receiving one by infusion and another by pill. Since I was diagnosed with multiple …

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Tom Brokaw: What It Means to Have Cancer

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Tom Brokaw (left) meets with Dana-Farber President and CEO Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD. The world is divided between those who are sympathetic to their friends and family who have cancer and those who have cancer and are empathetic with each other, says Tom Brokaw, the former “NBC Nightly News” anchor. Brokaw, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, shares his cancer story in the video below. Read more: What is Multiple Myeloma? A History of Multiple Myeloma Advances He advises new patients to be wary of Google searches, praises the work of cancer researchers, and recounts the …

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Tackling College, Marathons, and Multiple Myeloma

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By Ethan Hawes “Having cancer in college doesn’t seem real.” That was my first thought when I received what would become life-changing news at the age of 22 as a senior at the University of Maine (Orono). My body went numb and tears started to form when my doctor told me I had multiple myeloma, a rare form of blood cancer predominately found in people over the age of 65. [Less than one percent of multiple myeloma cases are diagnosed in people younger than 35.] On that infamous July day in 2013, I went from a normal college student to …

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New Clinic Focuses on Why Some Conditions Become Cancer While Others Don’t

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Thousands of people learn each year – usually after a routine blood test – that they have a condition that may develop into a blood cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma. The news is often followed by an equally surprising addendum: the condition won’t be treated until it becomes a full-fledged cancer. The lack of treatments for such “precursor conditions” places patients in an awkward limbo: seemingly healthy but waiting for their disease to progress to the point where it’s treatable. Scientists have puzzled over why some people with these conditions go on to develop cancer quickly while …

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Research Advances Hold Promise for Multiple Myeloma Treatment

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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 advances have significantly improved survival. Not long ago, patients with myeloma lived a median time of two to three years after diagnosis. Today, median survival is seven to 10 years, although this can be unpredictable, with some patients living longer and others surviving for significantly shorter time periods. Scientists have …

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How a Port Can Make Cancer Treatments Easier

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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, my arms were bruised and sore.” Dana-Farber has led the way in introducing new therapies that have transformed this type of blood cancer from a fatal disease to a chronic illness. However, living with multiple myeloma or other types of cancer often calls for procedures involving needles. Today, Boyd has …

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