By Shannon Watterson
If you asked a young Susan Mendoza Friedman where she saw her life going, she would not have said fundraising for cancer research and patient care. But, when the dance studio owner and early childhood expert’s best friend of 40 years, Karen Schek, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2005, that’s exactly what happened.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recently partnered with CancerConnect and Ursula Matulonis, MD, to answer questions about ovarian cancer. Experts in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers offer the latest research and treatment for this type of cancer. Watch one patient’s story.
Q: Is taking curcumin recommended to prevent ovarian cancer from returning? Do you have any other suggestions for preventing recurrence?
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 known as PARP inhibitors for patients with platinum-sensitive recurrent ovarian cancer – tumors that initially responded to platinum-based chemotherapy agents but have shown evidence of regrowth at least six months after treatment. Phase 3 trials test drugs in large numbers of patients to evaluate the drugs’ effectiveness as well as safety. PARP inhibitors work by blocking one of the pathways by which tumor cells repair their damaged DNA.
When Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy earlier this year, this issue of cancer risk and genetics made front-page headlines. Jolie, who announced the operation in a New York Times op-ed, tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation and learned she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer.
Jolie’s announcement left many women wanting to know more: What is a gene mutation? Should I undergo genetic testing? What should I do if my tests are positive?
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, and shortness of breath: those were the subtle constellation of symptoms that landed me in my primary care doctor’s office. At the age of 50, I felt like I was going downhill fast.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in our series of stories celebrating Moms this Mother’s Day weekend. Yesterday, Michelle Maloney shared her story. Today, it’s Allison Bellevue’s turn.
By Christine Triantos
In one whirlwind year, Allison Bellevue moved to Boston, started a new job, met her future husband, and discovered she was pregnant. Compared to what followed, that year was a breeze.
When Bellevue, now 31, went for her first fetal ultrasound, doctors noticed a small mass on her right ovary. They told her it was likely a cyst, and they would keep an eye on it over time.