Chemotherapy Myths and Misconceptions [Podcast]

Chemotherapy has long been a mainstay of cancer treatment. But a lot has changed since Sidney Farber, MD, the founder of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, achieved the first remissions for pediatric leukemia using chemotherapy in the 1940s. Today, in the era of precision cancer medicine, there are newer treatments and chemotherapy that can more specifically target … Continued

What is Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy has been traditionally used as an “adjuvant” treatment in many patients with cancer—administered after surgery to kill microscopic tumor cells that remain in the body after surgical removal of the tumor. More recently, it has also come to be used in a “neoadjuvant” setting—to shrink tumors before they are surgically removed. In some cases, … Continued

Researchers Making Headway on Treatment for Rare Blood Cancer

It began with some skin spots on his back and a lump on his knee that he thought was just a bruise from a golfing injury. After a series of exams and a biopsy, David Tracy, 74, of Waterford, Conn., finally learned he had a very rare and puzzling blood cancer that didn’t even have … 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

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

Multiple Myeloma Patient Committed to Persevering

Russ Horn went to work every day as a firefighter for almost 30 years. But now he has a new job—one that takes the same courage, hard work, and perseverance required in his last role. In 2014, Horn, then 50, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma—a cancer of plasma cells—after a minor slip at work sent … Continued

Using Music to Cope with Cancer: 5 Patient Stories

There is evidence that music can be a powerful therapeutic tool: it has been shown to bring about positive changes in mood and reduce anxiety, among other benefits. For cancer patients, music and music therapy—the clinical use of music as a tool to help achieve treatment goals—can also be used to develop positive coping skills … 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

Glioblastoma Survivor is Thriving Seven Years After Diagnosis

Charlie Benoit was told that he had a long road ahead of him when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2011. More than seven years later, he’s still doing well—and by studying patients like Benoit, researchers hope to help other patients with this incurable form of brain cancer. In 2011, Benoit, then 48, was getting … Continued

Can X-Rays Cause Cancer?

While high doses of X-rays and other types of high-energy electromagnetic radiation are known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), most studies haven’t found a connection between exposure to low levels of radiation – such as those used in dental X-rays and mammograms – and increased cancer risk. Most of the evidence linking high levels of radiation exposure … Continued

What is a Precancerous Condition?

A condition is considered precancerous if it consists of abnormal cells that have an increased risk of turning cancerous. In many cases, people with such conditions can take steps to reduce the chance that cancer will develop. Physicians may prescribe treatments to prevent the cancer or recommend monitoring the condition for signs that it is … Continued

What’s the Latest on E-Cigarettes and Cancer?

Claiming that use of electronic cigarettes among young people is reaching “epidemic proportions,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has undertaken a range of measures to ensure compliance with laws banning sales to minors and is considering toughening its stance toward manufacturers that fail to prevent widespread youth use of their products. JUUL, a new … 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

Signs and Symptoms of Pediatric Kidney Tumors

The majority of people are born with two kidneys, which are located on each side of the spine below the ribcage. They filter blood and make urine, and also produce hormones that regulate blood pressure, generate red blood cells, and help maintain strong and healthy bones. Pediatric kidney (renal) tumors occur when malignant (cancer) cells … 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

After 80 Years, Genetic Causes of Diamond-Blackfan Anemia Come Into View

This post was originally published on Vector, Boston Children Hospital’s science and clinical innovation blog. In 1938, Louis K. Diamond, MD, and Kenneth Blackfan, MD, at Boston Children’s Hospital described a severe congenital anemia that they termed “hypoplastic” (literally, “underdeveloped”) because of the bone marrow’s inability to produce mature, functioning red blood cells. Eighty years … 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

How Has Treatment of Gastrointestinal Cancers Advanced Recently?

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 … Continued