Cancer Conversations Podcast—Episode #17: The Latest in Brain Tumor Research and Treatment

Brain tumors can be among the most challenging cancers to treat. The blood-brain barrier, a natural defense mechanism that shields the brain from harm, can also prevent cancer treatments from reaching tumors. “It can be difficult to get treatments effectively into the brain,” says David Reardon, MD, clinical director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology. However, … Continued

What Is the Blood-Brain Barrier and How Does it Affect Brain Tumor Treatment?

The blood-brain barrier surrounds the brain and prevents harmful toxins and bacteria in the blood stream from entering the vital organ. What evolved as a life-saving defense, however, also blocks many drugs from reaching the brain, creating a major problem in treating brain tumors. The blood-brain barrier is formed by tightly-packed cells lining the walls … Continued

The Latest Research and Treatment for Adult Brain Tumors

Historically, brain tumors have been some of the most challenging types of cancers. A protective barrier around the brain—called the “blood-brain barrier”—can prevent cancer treatments from reaching the tumor. Recently, increased interest in immunotherapy has given new hope to getting through this barrier. “We know the immune system can get into the brain to fight … Continued

What Are the Differences Between Adult and Childhood Brain Tumors?

Brain tumors are relatively rare for people of any age, but they can occur in both children and adults. In fact, tumors of the spinal cord and brain are the second most common types of cancer in children, after leukemia. But there are some key differences between brain tumors that occur in adults and those … Continued

New Research Brings Better Understanding of Brain Tumors, Treatment Advances

Brain cancer takes a variety of forms – and research to better understand and treat it is progressing on a variety of fronts. One area of focus is the tumor microenvironment the skein of tissues and blood vessels that feed and support a tumor. Researchers are exploring how newly formed brain tumors interact with surrounding … Continued

Patient Turned Researcher Helps Advance Understanding of Brain Tumors

This post originally appeared on HealthHub, a blog from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Interested in seeing images of his brain, Steven Keating, currently a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, volunteered for a research study while attending school in Canada in 2007. When researchers returned his brain scans, they delivered some startling news. “The … Continued

Discovering New Ways to Approach the Treatment of Rare Brain Tumors

Until a few years ago, there were only a handful of known survivors of atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT), a rare cancer that affects the brain and central nervous system. When researchers at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center studied how these few survivors were treated, they found three had been given an unusual … Continued

Collaborative Effort Helps Develop More Effective Treatment for Brain Tumors

The information used in diagnosing a brain tumor takes many forms. At Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), patients’ brain tumor tissue undergoes a broad range of diagnostic tests: not only standard pathology exams in which tumor cells are viewed under a microscope, but also next-generation scans for mutated genes and misassembled chromosomes, as well … Continued

New Immunotherapy Vaccines Show Promise in Treating Brain Tumors

Researchers in Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology are now launching attacks on glioblastomas from a new angle – by turning the patient’s immune system against the cancer cells. Where targeted chemotherapy uses drugs to disable proteins that cancer cells need to grow, immunotherapy drugs stimulate the patient’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. Traditional drugs … Continued

New Year Brings New Hope for Young Violinist with Brain Tumor

On December 5, just after the students of Carolyn Bever’s Violin Studio finish playing “The First Noel” for the residents of the Pines Senior Living Community in South Burlington, Vermont, 9-year-old Sophie Fellows quietly leaves the stage because of a headache. The next day she is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the following day … Continued

New Surgery Technique Expands Treatment Options for Brain Tumor Patients

For many patients with brain tumors or other abnormal tissue located deep in the brain, treatment options have been limited. Last year, Jill Colter, now 50, discovered that a brain tumor resulting from Stage IV melanoma had returned. “Several years earlier, I had treatment with surgery and radiation, but the tumor came back,” Jill said. … Continued

Five Things You Need to Know About Glioblastomas

Glioblastomas are the most common primary cancer of the brain, with 13,000 new cases being diagnosed each year in the United States. Although it is a fast-moving cancer, doctors know a lot about this type of tumor and are finding ways to fight it. Here are five things you need to know about glioblastomas. 1. … Continued

What is a Meningioma?

A meningioma is a type of tumor that develops from the meninges, the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Most meningiomas (90 percent) are categorized as benign tumors, with the remaining 10 percent being atypical or malignant. In many cases, benign meningiomas grow slowly. This means that depending upon where it is located, … Continued

Ask the Expert: Questions and Answers about Brain Tumors

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recently partnered with CancerConnect and Lakshmi Nayak, MD, to answer questions about brain cancer. Nayak is a neuro-oncologist in the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.  Q: There seems to be some progress concerning treatment of brain tumors, especially immunotherapy. … Continued

Avastin Helps Patients with Glioblastomas, Doctors Say

The drug Avastin, when added to initial therapy for glioblastoma, can give patients a few extra months’ reprieve before their brain tumors start growing again, but does it make their quality of life better – or worse? That’s a matter of heated debate for doctors – and confusion for patients – after two large clinical … Continued

Improving Care for Brain Tumor Patients

By Patrick Y. Wen, MD and David Reardon, MD Highly malignant brain tumors called glioblastomas are the most common primary cancer of the brain; about 11,000 cases are diagnosed every year in the United States. Patrick Y. Wen, MD (Director) and David Reardon, MD, (Medical Director) of the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s … Continued

What Are Common Brain Tumor Symptoms?

Medically reviewed by Eudocia Q. Lee, MD, MPH and Lakshmi Nayak, MD People experiencing an unusual or particularly bad headache sometimes worry that this is a brain tumor symptom. Headaches are very common and usually don’t signal a serious illness. We asked neuro-oncologists Lakshmi Nayak, MD, and Eudocia Quant Lee, MD, MPH, from Dana-Farber Cancer … Continued

Meningioma: A tumor on the edge of the brain

Musician Sheryl Crow announced on June 5 that she has a benign brain tumor known as a meningioma. Below, doctors from Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology describe this condition. The singer-songwriter, a breast cancer survivor, visited Dana-Farber in 2006. Meningiomas are tumors on the surface of the brain, spinal cord, and fluid spaces. They are the … Continued

Brain tumor doesn’t slow this fitness enthusiast

Bryan Reilly has a full-time job and a passion for exercise. He skis, climbs mountains, works out regularly, and runs a mile in under 8 minutes. Any 56-year-old could be proud of being so fit. But for Reilly, it’s a special triumph: Less than two years ago he was diagnosed with an often-lethal and aggressive … Continued