What is a Lumpectomy?

There are many different treatment options available for breast cancer, including a type of surgery called a lumpectomy. While surgery can be anxiety-inducing, rest assured that lumpectomies are extremely safe and usually take no more than an hour. Here, Anna Weiss, MD, a breast surgeon in the Breast Oncology Program at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham … Continued

Cancer Patient Faces Multiple Diagnoses with the Strength of a Warrior

One bout of cancer is enough to contend with, but since 2014 Mary Johnson has had to cope with four different cancers and related conditions. Despite these tests of her physical and emotional strength, Johnson is doing well today after treatment at Dana-Farber. “Coming to Dana-Farber gave me confidence because they supported me, and I … Continued

What You Need to Know About Pap Smears

Pap smears are an important part of a woman’s regular health care, and the procedure is very simple and quick. Here are some facts to know before getting a Pap smear. What is a Pap smear? A Pap smear, or Pap test, is a procedure that screens for cervical cancer in women. More specifically, it … Continued

Should I Worry About a Lump Under the Armpit?

Finding an unusual lump in your armpit can be alarming — but most of the time, a lump under the armpit is not something to be overly concerned about. Adrienne Waks, MD, a physician in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, answers some of the most commonly asked questions about a … Continued

Focus is On Safety and Solidarity For Cancer Patients During COVID-19

Gina Solomon was in her office on March 10, worrying about the growing coronavirus pandemic, when the phone rang with news that quickly and dramatically shifted her concerns. Solomon, 55, learned she had HER2-positive breast cancer, a subtype of the disease that was as unfamiliar to her as COVID-19. In that instant, she went from … Continued

For Breast Cancer Patient, Positivity Is Everything

On a sunny July afternoon, Michelle Lemieux ran onto the field at Fenway Park to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during a Boston Red Sox home game. While the crowd of over 36,000 people continued to applaud as Lemieux ran back to her family, only a handful in attendance could truly appreciate what she … Continued

Living with Breast Cancer: How I Chose Not to Suffer in Silence 

By Amanda DeGiorgi Menopause, arthritis, wigs, medical bills, less sex, no sex… sounds more like a retiree’s worst nightmare than my reality as a 29-year-old about to be married. But life rarely goes as planned, and it can take you on a wild ride when you’re least expecting it.  Now that surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and … 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

Gynecologic Cancer Screening: What You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Kevin Elias, MD Today, cervical cancer is the only type of gynecologic cancer for which there is a routine screening test. The lack of such tests for endometrial and ovarian cancer — the most common gynecologic cancers — makes it especially important that women and their doctors be attuned to the symptoms … Continued

Facing Ovarian Cancer, a Doctor Becomes the Patient

By Luisa Stigol, MD, FAAP I was a 74-year-old pediatrician in practice with a multi-specialty group associated with Boston Children’s Hospital. Forty years after becoming a doctor, I still loved learning new things and sharing them with my patients. Then I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer — and suddenly, a big wall separated me from … Continued

Is BRCA-Positive Breast Cancer Treated Differently From BRCA-Negative?

It can be overwhelming to learn that you have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. About 5 to 10% percent of women with breast cancer have an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which puts them at greater risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers. For most women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, having … Continued

With precision cancer medicine, a success against endometrial cancer

In the annals of patients who have benefited from Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s (BWH) genomic sequencing program Profile, few involve a turnabout as dramatic as one recently reported in Gynecologic Oncology. Authored by nearly a dozen Dana-Farber and BWH faculty, the paper recounts the medical history of a 49-year-old Nebraska woman first diagnosed … Continued

Questions for Your Oncologist When You’re Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Learning that you have breast cancer can be overwhelming. In the shock of a diagnosis, it may be hard to organize your thoughts or plan out your questions. But those questions are important, and there are likely to be many of them. The answers will have an impact on your treatment and the preparations you … Continued

Longtime Ovarian Cancer Survivor Sings a Song of Hope

It was a bumpy road for Anne Sandstrom at first: after dealing with a stage IIIc ovarian cancer diagnosis, she had two relapses in a three-year span. But finally, treatment worked, and Sandstrom has enjoyed 16 years in which her disease lay dormant — enough for her oncologist to declare her “graduated” in 2017. The … Continued

Tips for Recovery After Gynecologic Surgery

Surgery is an essential component in the management of patients with gynecologic cancers. Surgical procedures may be utilized to initially diagnose cancers of the uterus, cervix, ovary, vulva and vagina. In addition, many gynecologic cancers are primarily treated (and often cured) with surgery alone. Nearly all gynecologic surgeries fall into either one of two categories: … Continued

How is Endometriosis Different from Endometrial Cancer?

Endometriosis is a non-cancerous disorder that occurs when tissue lining the inside of the uterus, known as the endometrium, appears in other parts of the body. It usually is found in the lower abdomen or pelvis but can appear in virtually any organ or tissue. Endometrial cancer, by contrast, occurs when cells in the endometrium … Continued

Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Tips for Sorting Fact From Fiction

Media reports on the effect of diet and physical activity on breast cancer risk can be head-spinning. One report may suggest that eating a particular food — broccoli, for example — can help prevent breast cancer. Another may conclude that a substance within that same food actually promotes the disease. How can you sort out … Continued

Tips for Coping with Breast Cancer as an Older Woman

Like many forms of cancer, the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age: 30 percent of breast cancer patients in the United States are age 70 or older. For many older patients, the issues and challenges associated with the disease are quite different from those that arise in younger women. Older women are more … Continued

Patient Spreads the Word on Breast Cancer: Never Ignore the Signs

Kaitlyn Zonfrelli thought she was too young to have breast cancer, even though she showed a common sign of the disease. Now that she’s in treatment, she wants to spread the word: Don’t ignore the signs, no matter what. Two years ago, when she was 26, Zonfrelli felt a lump on her breast during a … Continued