Cancer vaccines are a form of immunotherapy aimed at enhancing the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells, or to protect against certain forms of cancer caused by viruses. Vaccine can help prevent some cancers There are two approved preventive vaccines directed against cancer-causing viruses. A vaccine for hepatitis B, which can cause … Read more
What is BPDCN? Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) is a rare but aggressive blood cancer that can affect the skin, blood, and bone marrow. It has characteristics similar to leukemias and lymphomas, but almost always first appears as lesions in the skin. What are the treatment options for BPDCN? The first drug that was … Read more
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 … Read more
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 … Read more
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 … Read more
What are PD-1 and PD-L1? PD-L1 is a protein on the surface of some cancer cells that interacts with the PD-1 protein on T cells of the immune system to thwart an immune attack on the cancer. It’s one of the tools that cancer cells use to escape an attack by the immune system and … Read more
Andrew Hong, MD, knows the toll of rare childhood cancers all too well. As a pediatric oncologist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, he’s cared for a number of children who develop unusual, aggressive cancer. One teenager with a deadly type of kidney cancer called renal medullary carcinoma (RMC) left a particularly deep … Read more
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 … Read more
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 … Read more
Drug resistance is one of the major obstacles to successful cancer treatment — so scientists are looking at ways to overcome this obstacle.
Immunotherapy can be dramatically successful for people with limited options — so scientists are working on expanding the benefits to other patients.
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.
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 … Read more
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, … Read more
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, … Read more
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 … Read more
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 … Read more
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. … Read more
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, … Read more
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. … Read more