Immunotherapy, Ovarian Cancer Treatment Top List of 2014 Cancer Developments

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Immunotherapy, treatments for ovarian cancer, and investigating game-changing drug therapies topped the list of the most important cancer research and clinical developments at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2014. Here are some highlights from the last year in research: Hodgkin lymphoma Some of the most dramatic evidence of potential of immunotherapies was in the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma. In an early-phase clinical trial, research showed nivolumab, a drug that unleashes the immune system to attack cancer cells, achieved complete or partial remissions in Hodgkin lymphoma patients with resistant forms of the disease. The success of nivolumab in this study prompted the …

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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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FDA Approves New Treatment for Advanced Ovarian Cancer

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new treatment for women with advanced and recurrent ovarian cancer who test positive for the BRCA gene mutation. The new therapy, olaparib, will be used to treat women who have already received three or more lines of chemotherapy. The new therapy, which will be marketed under the name Lynparza, is a poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase – or PARP inhibitor – that hampers cancer cells’ ability to repair damaged DNA, potentially causing the cancer cells to die. Olaparib was approved along with a blood test called BRACAnalysis CDx that detects BRCA gene …

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BRCA-Positive Mom Supports Ovarian Cancer Research for Future Generations

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Mimi Gallagher never missed a gynecologist appointment. Her maternal grandmother died from ovarian cancer in her early 70s, and Gallagher, at 46, was well aware of her risk. Despite her diligence, and years of worry-free trips to the gynecologist, the mother of two was diagnosed with stage III c ovarian cancer. Troubling symptoms in July 2012, including bloating, constipation, and lethargy, led Gallagher to visit her gynecologist, primary care physician, and a gastrointestinal specialist, but, she says, “Ovarian cancer was never on anyone’s radar.” However, a vaginal ultrasound soon confirmed her cancer, and she was referred to a surgeon who …

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20 Years After BRCA: What We’ve Learned About Genetics and Breast Cancer

Twenty years ago, scientists announced the discovery of BRCA1, which arguably has become the best-known cancer susceptibility gene in the world. When inherited in a mutated form, the gene sharply increases a woman’s chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer, often at an early age. The discovery has changed the way women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer approach these diseases, helping them better understand their risk and the options for reducing it. It also presents them with complex choices about sharing genetic test results with family members who may also carry the mutated gene. The hunt …

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Tips for Recovering from a Hysterectomy

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Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, may be used to treat a variety of gynecologic cancers, including endometrial (uterine), ovarian, or cervical, or gestational trophoblastic  disease. Like any major surgery, recovering from a hysterectomy, which may also include removal of the ovaries, cervix, and fallopian tubes, takes time. Here is some advice from the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber on recovering safely following a hysterectomy. Balance activity with rest. Walking is one of the best ways for the body to recover and heal. Start slow and always listen to your body. You may be more …

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New Drug Combination Shows Promise for Women with Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

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For many women with ovarian cancer that has returned after initial treatment, a two-drug combination can significantly extend the time that the disease is kept in check, according to a phase 2 clinical trial led by investigators at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. As reported in Lancet Oncology, researchers compared the drugs cediranib and olaparib, versus olaparib alone, in their ability to stall the advance of ovarian cancer in women with a recurrent form of the disease that responds to platinum-based chemotherapy agents. The investigators found that the median period before the disease began to …

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The Latest in Ovarian Cancer Treatment and Research

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Although ovarian cancer is often difficult to treat, research continues to yield results that are improving outcomes and quality of life for many patients. “Ovarian cancer research and treatment is exciting today because there are so many resources available and we are no longer committed to just the standard chemotherapy,” says Susana Campos, MD, MPH, a gynecologic oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. “People can really have fruitful lives even if they are living with ovarian cancer.” Campos recently joined fellow gynecologic oncologist Panos Konstantinopoulos, MD, PhD, for a live video webchat led by …

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Advice from Mother and Son on Facing Cancer Together

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Hearing the words “you have cancer” can be hard enough, but what is it like to hear them echoed for a loved one? Having two cancer patients in one family calls for extra strength from everyone involved. Karen Perry was undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer when she and her husband Brian learned that their son Owen, then 11, had leukemia. He was hospitalized for five months at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “My knees buckled when I heard the news,” recalls Perry. “Learning Owen had cancer was harder than learning I had it.” The Perrys offer the following …

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What are the Main Types of Gynecologic Cancers?

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Close to 100,000 women are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer in the United States each year. In recognition of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at the main types of gynecologic cancers and their symptoms. Cervical cancer In cervical cancer, cancer cells form in the tissues of the cervix, the lower, narrow end of the uterus. More than 12,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Unlike other gynecologic cancers, cervical cancer has a standard screening test, the Pap smear, during which a doctor takes a sample of cells from the cervix. Doctors may also test …

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