A User’s Guide to Cancer-Related News

By Vish Viswanath, PhD

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News about advances in cancer research and treatment appears almost daily. The pace at which new findings are reported, coupled with the complexity of the underlying science, can make it difficult to know which studies are truly significant and which are less so. It’s easy to become confused when reports seem to have varying conclusions.

Here are some tips for becoming a savvy consumer of cancer news.

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Why We Need to Fund Cancer Research

One of the goals of the Rally for Medical Research, held in conjunction with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2013 Annual Meeting, earlier this month was to bring awareness to and education about the impact of the cuts in federal funding for medical research. Dana-Farber’s Kenneth C. Anderson, MD participated in the Rally. He says in this video, … Read more

Rally to Support Cancer Research Today

More than 18,000 cancer scientists from around the world are in Washington, D.C., this week for the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The meeting serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest discoveries in cancer research.

The meeting coincides with the Rally for Medical Research, which was held Monday morning on the steps of the Carnegie Library in the nation’s capital.

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Zeroing In On Dark Matter

If the human genome – the complete set of  DNA blueprints in a cell for building a human being — is truly “the book of life, ”  as it has been called, then 99 percent of life’s book is gobbledygook.

Only 1 percent of the DNA contains genetic instructions for making the body’s proteins; most of the rest of it has no known purpose, earning it the unappealing title of “junk DNA” or the more ominous sounding “dark matter.” In addition to containing all of life’s necessary genetic instructions, the 1 percent had also been home to all known cancer-causing mutations.

Until recently.

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Sequestration Could Slow the Pace of Biomedical Research

By Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD

The automatic budget cuts (or sequestration) that went into to effect as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, could have a chilling long-term effect on scientific research in the United States.

The automatic cuts will slash 5.1 percent – or about $1.6 billion in 2013 alone – from the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is the principal funder of biomedical research in the United States, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is a major supporter of research at Dana-Farber.

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Getting a Second Opinion About Your Cancer Care

Following the sudden shock and abruptness of a cancer diagnosis, a person’s initial instinct may be to begin treatment right away. However, in some instances, it can be beneficial to get a second opinion first. These secondary consultations — which usually happen with an oncologist (or cancer doctor) at a different hospital than the one … Read more

Can Breast Cancer Patients Avoid Multiple Surgeries?

When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, she began learning as much as she could about her disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer: Up to 40 percent of women who have a lumpectomy require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often cannot microscopically remove the entire tumor.

But Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS, director of Breast Surgical Services at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, is trying to change that with a phase I breast surgery pilot study. It’s the first of its kind in the world.

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A new approach to old ideas about diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma

Hilary Olson had no reason to suspect that her daughter Hailey might have a brain tumor.

“Her smile was starting to droop a little, and one of her eyes was a little jumpy,” says the 6-year-old’s mother. “We took her to see a neurologist, and he thought she might have pinched a nerve.

“But when he sent us to Boston Children’s Hospital for an MRI,” she continues, “the radiologists sent us straight down to the emergency room.”

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New developments in brain tumor treatment: Five questions for David Reardon, MD

More than 600,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor — one that begins and stays in the brain — and over 60,000 adults and children will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year.

In recognition of May as Brain Tumor Awareness Month, we asked David Reardon, MD, clinical director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, for the latest advances in brain tumor research and patient care.

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Blood cancer research may lead to new treatments

At this year’s American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting, Dana-Farber scientists presented major findings that could one day improve diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers, extend life, or even cure some diseases. Among the highlights: Steven Treon, MD, PhD, and his colleagues identified a gene mutation that underlies the vast majority of cases of Waldenström’s … Read more