Category Archives: oncologist

The Importance of Breast Cancer Research and the Work of Dr. Shom Goel

Bakes for Breast Cancer 2017 will support the research of Dr. Shom Goel
Although the term “physician-scientist” has become a buzzword in medical research, there are actually only a few people around who successfully combine a career in the clinic, taking care of breast cancer patients, with laboratory research. Dr Shom Goel is one such person –  a breast cancer oncologist at the Dana-Farber who divides his time between the laboratory bench and the patient’s bedside. This year, we will be funding Dr. Goel and his research that addresses the important question – “Why are some breast cancers resistant to the …


Dana-Farber team helps teacher find inner strength during breast cancer fight

Before a diagnosis of breast cancer, a double mastectomy, and months of grueling treatment, fifth-grader teacher and mom Colleen Sullivan “never, ever” would have described herself as strong or envisioned a classroom full of 10-year-olds clapping as she removed her wig. But Colleen’s journey fighting cancer at Dana-Farber has given her a new perspective of herself—and on life.
“Life is a gift,” she says. “I now understand the idea of stopping to smell the roses.”
Colleen was diagnosed after her primary care doctor found a lump during an annual physical. Within days, tests confirmed that she had invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). As …


Cancer Genetics and Prevention Update

by Christine Hensel Triantos
Beyond BRCA1 and BRCA2:
Other Gene Mutations Linked to Cancer Risk
Many women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer choose genetic testing to find out if they have inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, which could put them and their family members at a higher risk for these cancers. Now a panel test – known as BROCA – is available for women to learn if they have other gene mutations linked to breast and ovarian cancer.
The panel includes mutations in about 25 genes associated with an increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer, and that number …


Young breast cancer patients often overestimate the benefit of having second breast removed

Shoshana Rosenberg, ScD, MPH

Young women with breast cancer often overestimate the odds that cancer will occur in their other, healthy breast, and decide to have the healthy breast surgically removed, a survey conducted by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators indicates. The survey also shows that many patients opt for the procedure – known as a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or CPM – despite knowing it will be unlikely to improve their chance of survival.
The study, published in the Sept. 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, shows a certain disconnect between what many patients know on an abstract, intellectual level – …


Remembering Dr. Emil Frei III

Remembering Dr. Emil Frei III

Emil “Tom” Frei III, MD, who served as Dana-Farber physician-in-chief and whose work led to some of the first cures for a variety of pediatric and adult cancers, passed away on April 30 at age 89. Below are some reflections from individuals who knew Dr. Frei.
First cures
Tom Frei was one of a handful of physicians who developed combination chemotherapy for cancer and produced the first cures of childhood leukemia. His was a massive contribution to medicine. Patients and trainees will remember him with deep respect.
— David G. Nathan, MD, Dana-Farber President Emeritus
Way ahead of his time
Tom’s …


Fact or fiction? What’s the truth about breast cancer risk?

Experts at Dana-Farber explain the myths and misconceptions

Wendy Chen, MD, MPH

From the food we eat to the products we use, there are a lot of misconceptions about what may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. There are known factors, like genetics, that are well documented. But what about lifestyle issues like having a nightly cocktail or using deodorant?
So, what is fact and what is fiction? Wendy Chen, MD, MPH, a breast cancer expert at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston says an overabundance of information can be confusing, and it often is incorrect to some degree. She tackles some of …


Breast Cancer Advances and Women Over 65

A study out of MD Anderson, published in the Nov. 7, 2011 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, finds that patients 65 and older are not seeing the same decline in death rates from breast cancer as younger patients.
The study found significant shifts in breast cancer mortality over time. In 1980-84, women aged 75 and older had the lowest 10-year risk of breast cancer death (24 percent) while the risk ranged from 29 percent to 31 percent for those younger than 75. However, by 1995-97, the 10-year risk of breast cancer death was 17.3 percent for women 75 and …


Personal Quality of Life Issues as a Breast Cancer Survivor

If you have a supportive family, close friends and/or a long-term marriage or relationship with a loving partner, this can ease the transition from patient to survivor and all the adjustments that go with it.
For those of us who get breast cancer later in life, survivor adjustments to things that impact on our personal quality of life may include lingering side effects from treatment, which fade with time, side effects from hormone therapy (if we are er-positive) such as hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, vaginal dryness and bone pain.
There is relief for hot flashes, mood swings, bone pain and …


Hair – Part I

Me, in the summer of 2008, wearing my expensive wig with the headband needed to hold it on properly.
When I think back on my treatment days, I always think about my hair loss. It was one of the first questions I asked my oncologist when I was diagnosed, and it was a side effect of chemo that caused me the most stress, especially long term. When I take a step back, it amazes me that out of all the fear and pain caused by cancer treatment, hair loss was the focus of so much anxiety. I felt shallow for caring …


The #1 Fear in Survival…Recurrence

You’ve had your last chemo or radiation treatment and the medical oncologist and /or the radiation oncologist  says, “See you in three months.” Even the surgeon doesn’t want to see you for three months. At first it is exhilarating…three whole months with no treatments, no one examining you, testing you, questioning you.
Then it hits you that you are on your own with no one looking after you, checking to see that you are okay, making sure that you are healing well, and reassuring you that your cancer is gone. For many of us that is when a new fear set …