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

Basic Science Discovery Leads to Clinical Trial for Patients with Chemotherapy-Resistant Form of Ovarian Cancer

Dana-Farber scientists recently uncovered a potential vulnerability in a form of ovarian cancer notoriously resistant to chemotherapy. Now they’ve opened a clinical trial involving a drug that targets that susceptibility in patients with the disease. The impetus for their research is a type of ovarian cancer with excess copies of the cyclinE1 gene (abbreviated CCNE1). … Continued

Prostate Cancer Patient Thriving 17 Years After Diagnosis

When he was 67 years old, Barry Polsky said “I do” for the first time in his life when he married his wife, Randi. One year later, the retired high school teacher and lifelong baseball fan was offered one of his dream jobs as a tour guide at Fenway Park. And earlier this year, at … Continued

Colorectal Cancer Myths and Common Questions

As of 2019, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society — but survival after diagnosis has been gradually increasing in the past decade due to advances in treatment. However, since 1994, cases of young onset colorectal cancer have increased … Continued

What African American Men Need to Know About Prostate Cancer

African-Americans have a 60 percent higher incidence of prostate cancer compared to other ethnic groups, and a 150 percent higher risk of dying from it — in part because blacks tend to have a more aggressive form. They are also more likely to develop prostate cancer at an earlier age and to have a more … Continued

For Glioblastoma Patient, Long-Term Survival and ‘Brain Fame’

Heather Auger’s oncologist, Patrick Wen, MD, likes to say that his patient has a “famous brain.” For more than a decade after Auger was treated at Dana-Farber for recurrent glioblastoma, the tumor that once threatened her life has not returned. It’s still a rare outcome for patients with this type of brain tumor, but one … Continued

Grandfather Gets Back to Life and Nature after CAR T-Cell Therapy for Lymphoma

Jerry Jalbert is always up for new adventures. He did not expect that non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) would be one of them, but with the help of CAR T-cell therapy that keeps his cancer at bay, the 73-year-old professional photographer-turned-baker-turned-forest checkpoint operator is continuing to enjoy life’s many journeys alongside his wife, Ethel. “We are not … Continued

Living with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome is Using Knowledge as Power

Breast cancer survivor Jennifer Perry is at high risk of additional cancers during her lifetime because she carries an inherited the mutation for Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS). But experts at the new Li-Fraumeni Syndrome and TP53+ Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute can help her manage that risk. While there is no treatment for LFS — a … Continued

Navigating a Cancer Diagnosis One Quote at a Time

For a seven week stretch in 2018, Steve Kiley began each day with an inspirational quote. It was all part of his morning routine: he’d wake up, get ready for the day, and pull a sticky note off of the giant calendar created by his wife, Becky. The calendar helped Kiley count down his seven … Continued

What is CHEK2?

Medically reviewed by Huma Rana, MD CHEK2 is the abbreviated name of the gene called checkpoint kinase 2 (gene names are written in italics). The gene provides cells with instructions for making a protein known as CHK2, which becomes active when DNA within the cell is damaged or strands of DNA break. CHK2 and other … Continued

For Father with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, CAR T-Cell Therapy Saves Memories and More

In May 2018, Tyler Goodwin underwent CAR T-cell therapy for follicular non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). While he was having preparatory chemotherapy for the procedure, a surprise visitor to his hospital bedside provided a powerful reminder of why this promising new cancer treatment was so important to him. “It was my daughter Theresa, all made up for … Continued

New Study Reports “Curative Potential” of a Combination Therapy for Some Leukemia Patients

Medically reviewed by Matthew Davids, MD, MMSc Chemoimmunotherapy combined with a targeted drug given for two years has achieved undetectable minimal residual disease (MRD) for a high proportion of younger patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Dana-Farber scientists report. The phase 2 clinical trial results are so favorable that they represent a step toward “a … Continued

Study Implicates Failure of DNA Damage Repair in BRCA1 Breast Cancer

Medically reviewed by David Livingston, MD It’s been known for decades that a mutated BRCA1 gene in a woman’s breast cells sharply increases her lifetime risk of breast cancer. What has eluded scientists, however, is a detailed understanding of how the loss of BRCA1 function leads normal breast cells down the path to malignancy. Now, … Continued

Scientists Identify Genes Tied to Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

Medically reviewed by Alexander Gusev, PhD A team of Dana-Farber scientists and their associates has identified 34 genes associated with an increased risk of developing earliest-stage ovarian cancer. The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, will both help identify women who have the highest risk of developing ovarian cancer and pave the way for identifying … Continued

A Cancer Researcher’s Personal Story

By Ellen Lori Weisberg, PhD The discovery of a lump came about as the result of a complete accident — a sweeping of my finger past a swelling as I mindlessly adjusted the ribbed shirt I was wearing during an otherwise mundane evening of television watching. My husband, a pediatrician, tried to reassure me that … Continued

Stem Cell Transplant Patient Makes Dana-Farber History

When Liz Bowen first learned she would need a stem cell transplant, she had no idea she’d be making history as the first outpatient stem cell transplant patient in New England. Bowen, 55, was diagnosed with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a rare form of skin lymphoma, in 2017. Her care team at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center … Continued

Double Strike Against Tumor Protein Shows Promise in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Medically reviewed by Pasi A Jänne, MD, PhD Imagine inserting a key to shut off an engine only to find that it no longer fits — that the configuration of the lock has been changed without notice. Scientists developing targeted therapies to treat cancer often face a similar conundrum. Targeted therapies derive their effectiveness from … Continued