The Most Significant Cancer Research Advances of the 2010s

It was a decade that began with the electrifying results of a clinical trial for a revolutionary new cancer therapy and ended with a Nobel Prize in Medicine for very different cancer-related research. In between those dramatic bookends, the 2010s were packed with progress, with discoveries leading to the FDA’s 2017 approval of the first … Continued

New Options for First-Line Treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Medically reviewed by Jennifer Brown, MD Most patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) now have several options for first-line therapy, thanks to new clinical trial results and novel targeted agents. Many patients with CLL, a slowly progressive blood cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many white blood cells, don’t need immediate treatment but … Continued

What Are Precursor Blood Conditions and How Are They Treated? [Updated 2019]

Precursor conditions are early phases of blood diseases that may develop into cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia, Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, and multiple myeloma. Most people do not experience symptoms, and since doctors rarely screen for precursor conditions, they are often diagnosed after routine blood tests. “Many diagnoses are purely incidental,” says Irene Ghobrial, MD, co-principal investigator … Continued

What is PD-1 and Immunotherapy?

More than a century after scientists recognized the immune system’s potential as a cancer warrior, immunotherapy is rapidly becoming a mainstay of the anti-cancer arsenal. The groundwork was laid in the 1990s, when scientists learned that immune cells carry certain proteins on their surface that enable them to turn off the body’s immune system. That … Continued

How Has Treatment of Gastrointestinal Cancers Advanced Recently?

Scientists have made numerous gains recently in treating gastrointestinal malignancies, which include cancers of the colon and rectum, stomach, pancreas, liver, esophagus, and related tissues. Some advances are reflected in the approval of new drug therapies or changing practice to use existing drugs more effectively. In other cases, protocols are being revised to reduce toxic … Continued

5 Things to Know About Early Cancer Detection

Many types of cancer can be detected at an early stage, when they have just started to form and have yet to spread to other parts of the body. Early detection can be critical, because cancer can often be more successfully treated in its initial stages than when it has grown and metastasized. Self exams … Continued

Can Obesity Cause Cancer?

What is the relationship between obesity and cancer? Being obese increases one’s risk for a multitude of health complications and diseases, including several types of cancer. Obesity has been linked to thirteen types of cancer with a stronger risk associated with breast, esophageal and endometrial cancers, among others.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-Cell Therapy: What Does “Chimeric” Mean?

One of the most exciting new cancer treatments, CAR T-cell therapy takes its complicated name, in part, from a fire-breathing monster in an ancient Greek myth. CAR is an acronym for “chimeric antigen receptor,” referring to genetically engineered molecules manufactured in a laboratory, inserted into the genetic material of immune T cells that have been … Continued

Soy and Breast Cancer: Is There a Connection?

Could adding soy milk to your coffee or substituting tofu for meat increase your risk of breast cancer? The research is conflicting, but our breast cancer doctor, Wendy Chen, MD, MPH, is here to help us cut through the noise. “[It’s] one of the most common questions I get from breast cancer survivors,” says Chen, … Continued

Human Touch Surgeries, New Therapies Brighten the Picture in Endometrial Cancer

Although she had been fully prepped on what to expect, Barbara Losordo was a bit surprised at the ease and speed of her recovery from surgery for endometrial cancer. Discharged from the hospital the same day she had undergone the procedure, she needed no pain medication afterward. Within a week, she was driving. Within a month, … Continued

New Tanning Drug Could Protect Skin From the Sun

Scientists may have figured out a way to let people tan safely – without involving the sun. In an effort to further develop preventative measures for skin cancers like melanoma, researchers from Dana-Farber and other health care organizations have developed a potential topical cream that stimulates skin cells to produce the dark pigment, melanin. Melanin … Continued

What’s New in Treatment of Adult Histiocytic Disorders?

While blood cancers known as adult histiocytic disorders are very rare and many patients do well with today’s treatments, researchers are working to improve outcomes with therapies targeted to newly discovered mutations – and they are about to begin testing immunotherapies, too. Histiocytic disorders involved overproduction of immune white cells, histiocytes, that attack tissues in … Continued

In Check: Attacking Cancer from Many Fronts

As a pediatric dentist, Jay Schwab had a clear-cut enemy: dental disease in children and adolescents, and the apprehensions they faced in the dental environment. Cavities could neither hide from his drill nor fool his X-ray machine, and plaque could easily be scraped away. Generations of patients went away smiling and in good dental health. … Continued

Catch Me if You Can: Finding Cancer Cells that Hide in Plain Sight

In the high-stakes contest of hide-and-seek between cancer cells and the human immune system, the advantage doesn’t always lie with the body’s defenders. A new approach to treatment, known as CAR T-cell therapy, may shift that balance of power. Cancer cells conceal themselves from the immune system not by barricading themselves in an impenetrable shell, … Continued

Meet the Researcher: Bruce Spiegelman

Cancer patients often lose weight during treatment, which can limit their ability to withstand treatment and their quality of life. How can we fix this – and what role does energy metabolism play in cancer, and health overall? Those are the questions researcher Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, and his team at Dana-Farber are focused on answering. … Continued

An Unclassified Tumor — with a Precisely Targeted Therapy

Early last year, at his home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jesus Apolinaris Cruz’s leg hurt so much he could barely sleep. “All day, it was constant pain,” the 13-year-old recalls. His parents took him to two local pediatricians, who examined him, drew blood, and tested his platelets. No diagnosis. Finally, in April 2016, a … Continued

What is CAR T-Cell Therapy and How Does It Work?

CAR T-cell therapy is a kind of cellular therapy, which uses a patient’s own immune system cells to rally an attack on cancer. They’re made by removing a specific set of cells from the blood, modifying them in a lab to intensify the immune system’s natural response to cancer, and re-injecting them into the patient. … Continued