What Are the Common Treatments for Cancer?

Every cancer patient is different, and there are many different types of cancer treatments that a patient may receive—all of which is dependent on their unique circumstances. A patient may only receive one type of treatment or a combination of multiple different treatments. Treatment can also have different goals. In some cases, treatment is used … Continued

Can Immunotherapy be Combined with Chemotherapy to Fight Cancer?

Immunotherapy drugs can be more effective against cancer when combined with other therapies, such as radiation therapy, targeted drugs, or other immunotherapy agents. Clinical trials that are currently underway are testing such combinations in a variety of cancers. It might seem that immunotherapy and chemotherapy make an unpromising pair. Chemotherapy, after all, is known to … Continued

Rugby Player-Turned-Researcher Seeks Mechanisms Behind Prostate Cancer Metastases

Leigh Ellis, PhD, once seemed destined for a career intercepting passes as a professional rugby player. Now, the Dana-Farber researcher is devising plays to intercept prostate cancer cells before they become metastatic. These tactics could also potentially slow other genitourinary diseases, including kidney cancer. Ellis’ laboratory works to better understand the underlying genetic and epigenetic … Continued

“Active Loading” Technology Speeds up Single Cell Drug Testing Devices

High-tech devices that flow cancer cells over a miniaturized “scale” to measure changes in the weight of single living cells are increasingly being used to test the susceptibility of cancer cells to different drugs. The devices are so sensitive that they can measure a change in growth rate of a cell within hours or days … Continued

Living for Today, Metastatic Breast Cancer Patient Has ‘All I Need’

Krista Lawrence likes to joke with her two adult children that they don’t need to get married and have their own kids just because she has metastatic breast cancer. In fact, thanks to her excellent response to a clinical trial at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, Lawrence is enjoying each … Continued

Pediatric Leukemia Survivor Having a Ball After CAR T-Cell Therapy

After undergoing a promising new treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), Cole Malone is back to doing what he loves: playing on a flag football team with his twin brother, Michael. Cole and Michael Malone, who are 14, already know plenty about teamwork. Michael served as a perfect-match donor when Cole underwent a stem cell … Continued

Exceptional Immunotherapy Response Triggers Search for the Cause

Six years’ worth of repeated surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy with three different agents failed to halt the growth of Frances Zichichi’s brain tumor. As it kept recurring and more surgeries were required, Zichichi lost the use of her left side. Eventually the cancer formed masses under her scalp, causing pain, which was dulled only with … Continued

CRISPR-Cas9 Screen Opens New Targets for Ewing Sarcoma, Other Childhood Cancers

This post originally appeared on Vector, Boston Children’s Hospital’s blog. While the genetic mutations driving adult cancers can sometimes be targeted with drugs, most pediatric cancers lack good targets. That’s because their driving genetic alterations often create fusion proteins that aren’t easy for drugs to attack. “This is one reason why it is notoriously hard … Continued

Circadian Rhythms and Cancer: What’s the Connection?

Circadian rhythms describe the roughly 24-hour cycle that many of our life-sustaining processes operate on. In humans, as in all animals, circadian rhythms regulate hundreds of activities, from sleep patterns to body temperature to digestion. Life in industrialized societies can play havoc with natural circadian cycles, which are most strongly influenced by changes in light … Continued

Targeting Tumor Heterogeneity To Reduce Treatment Resistance

One of the biggest challenges in treating cancer is that the cells making up a tumor – say a breast or lung tumor – are enormously diverse, or heterogeneous. This tumor heterogeneity can be both genetic, meaning the DNA in the tumor cells differs from one cell to the next, and epigenetic, meaning that the … Continued

Personalizing Treatment: The Latest in Breast Cancer Research

One of the primary goals of breast cancer research is to personalize the treatment of the disease, tailoring therapies to the specific characteristics of each patient’s cancer.  “The future of breast cancer therapy is tied to the idea of individualizing treatment for each patient—not only to the stage and subtype of the cancer but also … Continued

Myeloma Study Makes the Case for a New Standard for Predicting Long-Term Outcome

As new treatments for multiple myeloma have extended patient survival—from an average of three years to more than 10 in some cases—physicians and researchers face a new challenge: how to predict a drug’s long-term effectiveness? How to tell, early on, whether one drug is likely to extend patients’ lives more than another? At Dana-Farber’s Jerome Lipper … Continued

Trials Open New Avenues of Endometrial Cancer Treatment

In recent years, there has been a dearth of clinical trials studying new approaches to how endometrial cancer, which forms in the lining of the uterus, is treated. That is changing rapidly, however, as basic research into the disease spurs the testing of novel drugs and drug combinations. A host of clinical trials—including four led … Continued

Research Update: Scientists Present Novel Ways of Treating Blood Cancers and Diseases

Dana-Farber scientists presented an abundance of new research at the 60th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition, held December 1-4 in San Diego. Their research spanned the gamut of hematological diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and myelodysplastic syndrome—as well as treatment modalities, such as stem cell transplantation and CAR T-cell therapy. A … Continued

ctDNA: Bringing ‘liquid biopsies’ to pediatric solid tumors

This post originally appeared on Vector, Boston Children’s Hospital’s blog. Our blood carries tiny amounts of DNA from broken-up cells. If we have cancer, some of that DNA comes from tumor cells. Studies performed with adult cancers have shown that this circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) may offer crucial clues about tumor genetic mutations and how … Continued

New Research Effort Aims to Improve Treatment for Sickle Cell Disease

Emmanuel “Manny” Johnson, Jr., shares many loves with his little brother, Aiden—from basketball to video games. One thing he wishes they did not share is sickle cell disease (SCD), so Manny is playing a role in a new effort to improve treatment for patients like seven-year-old Aiden, himself, and others living with the inherited blood … Continued

From Slovakia to Boston: One Researcher’s Journey to Dana-Farber

In recounting her odyssey from Slovakian high school exchange student to Dana-Farber principal investigator, Zuzana Tothova, MD, PhD, often says modestly, “I was very lucky.” Perhaps. But it’s also true that, at pivotal points in her journey, Tothova was recognized as a person of exceptional promise, with mentors encouraging her and taking extra steps to … Continued

Immunotherapy Shows Benefit in Hard-to-Treat Breast Cancer

While immunotherapy has brought an impressive new option to several types of cancer, drugs that harness the immune system to fight cancer haven’t shown a significant benefit in treating breast cancer—until now. According to a new clinical trial report, published in Th­­e New England Journal of Medicine, a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy achieved better … Continued

Study Finds Source of PARP Inhibitor Drug Resistance

It may not be sporting to hit someone when they’re down, but when the foe is a cancer cell, there’s no merit in mercy. That’s the principle behind drugs known as PARP inhibitors. Tumor cells that lack effective BRCA genes have difficulty repairing certain kinds of DNA damage, potentially leaving them vulnerable to agents that … Continued