What’s the Difference between Chemotherapy Drugs and Antibody Drugs?

Both chemotherapy and antibody agents are used in the treatment of cancer. In its broadest definition, cancer chemotherapy refers to any drug that destroys cancer cells or slows their growth and reproduction. As the “chemo” in their name suggests, however, true chemotherapy agents consist of chemicals that kill fast-growing cancer cells while generally sparing slower-growing … Read more

Who Needs Chemotherapy after Treatment for Early Breast Cancer?

Following surgery and/or radiation for early stage breast cancer, chemotherapy is sometimes given to eliminate remaining cancer cells that could cause trouble later. Traditionally, women have been more likely to undergo follow-up chemotherapy if clinical and pathological factors suggested a significant risk of recurrence, such as a larger tumor, higher stage and pathological grade of … Read more

What is an Angiogenesis Inhibitor and How Can It Be Used to Treat Cancer?

Tumors can’t grow any larger than the size of a pinhead unless the body generates a network of new blood vessels to nourish them – a process known as angiogenesis. So using drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors to block this process is an ingenious strategy with many potential advantages over standard chemotherapy. Indeed, when the first … Read more

‘Chemobuddies’ Help Breast Cancer Patient Heal

This post was originally published in July 2016. “What should I bring with me to chemo?” It’s a common question. For many cancer patients, the answer is books, puzzles, or a good movie. For Monica Wright, it was her “chemobuddies.” Wright, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2015, and quickly found how comforting … Read more

Clinical Trial Helps Betsy Brauser Live with Ovarian Cancer

As researchers and clinicians in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber continue studying the benefits of a two-drug combination in slowing progression of recurrent ovarian cancer, one patient is as a beacon of hope for her caregivers – and for others facing the disease. Betsy Brauser, treated with standard chemotherapy near … Read more

Immunotherapy, Targeted Drugs, Brain Cancer Research Among Highlights at Cancer Meeting

Eagerly awaited new data from trials of immunotherapy drugs, vaccines to treat brain tumors, and improved treatments for blood cancers sparked waves of optimism at the year’s biggest cancer meeting. The 2015 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) drew about 30,000 cancer specialists to Chicago May 29 – June 2. Immunotherapy, … Read more

Five Things You Need to Know About Oral Chemotherapy/Chemo Pills

Medically reviewed by Robert I. Haddad, MD As cancer treatments advance, more patients are taking anti-cancer medications, including oral chemotherapy, at home. What are the advantages of oral chemotherapy? Unlike the traditional IV infusion chemotherapy given in a clinic, oral chemotherapy is a drug taken in tablet, capsule, or liquid form. It has the same benefits … Read more

How Does Chemotherapy Work? Including Oral Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy

More than half of all people with cancer will get chemotherapy – powerful drugs that kill cancer cells to cure the disease, slow its growth, or reduce its symptoms. There are more than 100 different drugs used in chemotherapy, sometimes alone, but more often in combinations that have proven effective against specific types of cancer. … Read more

Is Chemo Working If I Don’t Lose My Hair?

Medically reviewed by Clare Sullivan, BSN, MPH, CRRN It’s well known that many chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer can bring undesirable side effects, such as hair loss, lack of appetite, and fatigue. But experiencing such symptoms is not an indication of whether cancer treatment is working. Chemotherapy interferes with a cell’s ability to grow … Read more

‘Chemobrain’ Added to Cancer Survivorship Guidelines

Cognitive dysfunction is a common and frustrating side effect for many patients who undergo chemotherapy. The condition – also called “chemobrain” – can create problems with memory, attention and concentration, information processing, and mental skills used for organizing and scheduling. For many years, medical professionals were skeptical that these cognitive issues were a real side effect of … Read more

How Donating Blood and Platelets Helps Cancer Patients

If you’ve ever donated blood or platelets, there’s a reasonable chance that your donation went to help a cancer patient. That’s because cancer and certain treatments can damage blood cells, which means some patients may need transfusions of one or more types of blood components. These include: Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to organs throughout the … Read more

How to Ease Chemotherapy Side Effects with Food

Cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy, can make eating well and enjoying food a challenge for many patients. Food may start to taste strange, appetite may diminish, and other symptoms, such as fatigue, bowel changes, nausea, and mouth sores, may make finding nutritious, delicious foods difficult.

“During chemotherapy, it’s very common for patients to not feel like eating, for appetite to be low, or the taste of food to be off,” says Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, who stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy diet to manage symptoms. In the video below, Kennedy explains how to combat symptoms by incorporating tart or sour flavors, eating small and frequent meals, and staying hydrated:

Read more

How to Prevent Mouth Problems During Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation are often prescribed because they are both very effective at destroying cells that grow rapidly, such as cancer cells. Unfortunately, they can also harm healthy cells that grow quickly, such as the cells lining the inside of your mouth. Patients undergoing chemo or radiation treatment often report mouth problems, such as sores, dry mouth, or infections, because the treatments make it difficult for the mouth to heal itself and fend off germs.

To help prevent or minimize mouth problems, consider these tips:

Read more

Tips for Managing Neuropathy During Winter

Staying warm and healthy during the winter can be challenging for anyone in most parts of the country, but it can be especially difficult for cancer patients, particularly those who may be experiencing treatment-related neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is a temporary or long-lasting nerve problem that may occur as a result of certain chemotherapy drugs.  It can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling, usually in the hands or feet, making snowy weather and freezing temperatures all the more challenging.

Read more