ASCO: New Advances in Ovarian, Prostate, Lung and Melanoma Treatment

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“Science and Society” was the theme of this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 50th annual meeting. The meeting showcased  cancer research from around the world. Some new findings from Dana-Farber researchers included: Joyce Liu, MD, MPH, of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers reported that, in a phase 2 clinical trial, a combination of olaparib (a drug that blocks DNA repair in cancer cells) and cediranib (which blocks blood vessel growth in tumors) was considerably more effective in women with recurrent ovarian cancer than olaparib alone.. Progression-free survival – the length of time after treatment when …

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Act of Kindness Sparks Friendship Between Two Neighbors

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Those passing them in the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care at Dana-Farber may assume Pamela Desmarais is a dutiful daughter taking her elderly father to his appointments. They certainly look the part, but while Pamela Desmarais cares for 84-year-old prostate cancer patient Donald Segur, there is no familial bond between these two neighbors from East Sandwich, Mass. Just a special friendship, formed from a selfless act. Desmarais, a nurse, first met Segur when she was caring for his late wife, Margaret. After Margaret passed away last fall, she kept checking in on Segur and noticed he was looking gaunt and …

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Five Things You Need to Know About Men’s Health/Cancer Screenings

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Cancer affects thousands of men across the United States every year, with the most common diagnoses coming in the form of prostate, colon, testicular, lung, and skin cancer. Not all cancers can be detected early on, but for some forms of the disease, the spread of cancer can be prevented through screenings. As June marks Men’s Health/Cancer Awareness Month, here are five things you need to know about men’s health screenings:   1. Prostate Cancer One in every six men is affected by prostate cancer, which most often affects men over age 50. In addition, age, family history, diet and lifestyle, …

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Star-Studded Support for Dana-Farber

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A group of influential theater owners known as the Variety Club of New England were touring Boston Children’s Hospital in 1947 when they happened upon a tiny basement laboratory. Here, Sidney Farber, MD, was conducting research that would lead to the first remissions in pediatric leukemia. The men were so impressed by Farber they decided to help his efforts. Calling on their Hollywood friends, the group held a fundraising drive that enabled Farber to establish the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation – now known as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Ever since, celebrities have been supporters of Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund. In 1948, …

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Progress and Promise in Prostate Cancer Research

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 cancer at an early stage. But it remains difficult to determine which prostate cancers are likely to spread – and therefore require aggressive treatment – and which are either idle or slow-growing, and can be dealt with by “observation or active surveillance.” This uncertainty could result in unnecessary treatment for …

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How to Prevent and Manage Lymphedema

Following radiation treatment or surgery to remove lymph nodes (lymphadenectomy), patients can develop lymphedema, a condition that involves abnormal swelling, usually in the arms or the legs, due to an accumulation of lymphatic fluids. This fluid buildup is caused by blockage or removal of lymph nodes or lymph vessels. Lymphedema is often associated with breast cancer patients, but can result from treatment of other cancers, such as melanoma, prostate, or advanced gynecological cancer. In addition to discomfort, lymphedema can also lead to infection, as the fluid buildup can increase bacteria growth. Pay attention to signs of infection, including pain, heat, …

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New Findings May Change Treatment of Advanced Prostate Cancer

For about 70 years, the standard treatment for patients with advanced prostate cancer was drugs that blocked male hormones feeding the tumor. If that stopped working and the disease progressed, oncologists turned to chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells. This timetable is about to change. Results of a clinical trial led by a Dana-Farber researcher revealed that such patients lived longer if started on both a hormone blocker and a chemotherapy drug at the same time. The government-sponsored trial found that 69 percent of men receiving both treatments were alive at three years, compared with 52.5 percent of men who …

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Can a Vasectomy Increase a Man’s Risk of Prostate or Testicular Cancer?

By Mark Pomerantz, MD There has been some uncertainty surrounding this question, but recent studies have demonstrated that having a vasectomy has no effect on the risk of prostate or testicular cancer. Older data – from studies tracking disease rates across broad population groups – suggested a modest connection, while other studies found no such link.

Why It’s Important to See a Specialist

By Leonard Ansin In January 2012, my wife and I had left Boston to spend a few months in sunny Florida. We had just passed Orlando when my cell phone rang. It was my primary care physician calling to tell me she was concerned that my PSA  was elevated to 6, which showed that I did have a problem with my prostate. This is where it all started.