Tag Archives: chemotherapy

How Does Chemotherapy Work?

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. Though traditionally given by injection or intravenous infusion, chemotherapy drugs are increasingly available as pills or liquids that patients can take at home (oral chemotherapy).
Oral chemotherapy pills
Administered prior to surgery, chemotherapy may make a tumor smaller and easier to remove. Chemotherapy is often given as an …


ASCO issues new guideline on treating patients with advanced, HER2-negative breast cancer

Dana-Farber doctor co-chairs ASCO expert panel to develop guideline

Ann Partridge, MD, MPH

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today issued a new clinical practice guideline on chemotherapy and targeted therapy for women with HER2-negative advanced breast cancer. The guideline provides detailed, evidenced-based information on the efficacy and side effects of various therapies.
“In releasing this guideline, our aim is to improve both the length and quality of patients’ lives,” said Ann H. Partridge, MD, MPH, Founder and Director, Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer,Director, Adult Survivorship Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and co-chair of ASCO’s expert panel that developed the …


Hitching a Ride

Will an emerging cancer therapy that links potent drugs to tumor-seekers take the place of standard chemotherapy?
by Elizabeth Dougherty

Eric Winer, MD (left), has been leading clinical trials at DF/BWCC focusing on the antibody-drug conjugate T-DM1.

Sarah Merchant was working as a Web designer in Boston when, at age 28, she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Surgery, radiation, and a series of chemotherapy regimens followed, as did nerve damage, hair loss, and a general decline in her health.
Then Merchant heard about T-DM1, a trial drug promising the effectiveness of chemotherapy without the toxicity. “I wanted to get into that …


5 years ago

On January 11, 2008 is the day my hand bumped into my chest and noticed a lump. Followed by a visit to the PCP and then mammogram, ultrasound followed by a core biopsy. I had my surgery on the 28th of January. Chemotherapy started on the 27th of February. My cancer spread to my spine in April 2009. Five years to the day I had to switched to like my 7th or 8th treatment. It has been an unbelievable journey that I wish no one else to go on. I am so glad that I have so many great friends …


How are genes involved in cancer?

Genes don’t cause cancer, but genetic mutations can. Our cells have about 22,000 genes, which consist of DNA packed into chromosomes inside the cell nucleus. These genes control a wide range of functions, including cell growth and division. When the genes misbehave or mutate, cancer can develop.
Sometimes these mutations are inherited. In that case, they are called germline mutations, and they are found in almost every cell of the body.
You’re probably familiar with the idea that cancer can run in families. For example, if your mother had breast cancer, you might be at risk for developing it one day. Of …


Hair – Part II

Last week I talked about losing my hair from my chemotherapy treatments. At the time, I thought that would be the worst part, but I also found the process of growing my hair back more traumatic than I would have thought. I remember at first, when I would see little stubble of hair growing in on the top of my head, I would get all excited and show people what I called my ‘seedlings.’
As a woman who has never in my life had hair above shoulder length, I had no idea how long it would take to grow back. Of …


Navigating Chemotherapy

While the planning tips for getting through radiation are also appropriate for getting through chemotherapy, there are more things to prepare for when getting ready to begin chemotherapy.
From a treatment perspective, your biggest concern will be managing the symptoms you experience following each treatment. From a personal care perspective, you will want to be prepared for the possible loss of hair, not only on your head but your eye lashes and eyebrows. You will also want to prepare your family and friends, husband and children for the potential changes in your personal appearance, energy level,  attitude, moods, ability to participate …


Pregnancy and breast cancer: One mother’s story

Rebecca Byrne had waited years for a doctor to tell her, “You’re pregnant.” She never imagined that just a few months after she first heard those words, she would hear four more: “You have breast cancer.”
Byrne still tears up when telling the story, but smiles when her 20-month-old daughter, Emelia, leaps into her lap. Emelia is the happy outcome of a painful period of Byrne’s life, when the joys of pending and early motherhood were shadowed by chemotherapy treatments, hair loss, radiation, and uncertainty.
Every year in the U.S., one in 3,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy. …


Dieting After Breast Cancer

I have never been a thin woman. I stand at less than five feet tall and carry most of my weight in my upper body. Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt OK about my body – dieting here and there, but not taking my health or nutrition seriously at all. I was, after all, still in my 20s. Breast surgery certainly slowed down my workouts and I began to put on weight. Chemo stopped my exercising entirely and I gained a bit more weight. Once treatment was over, I worked hard to get down to my precancer …


It’s Not About the Hair!

This guest post is about Debra Jarvis, an oncology chaplain and breast cancer survivor. The post is in Debra’s own words, taken from the Introduction in her book, It’s Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life and Cancer.
I am the general oncology outpatient chaplain at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). I see patients who are receiving chemotherapy, getting radiation, having their blood drawn, or waiting to see their oncologists.
I was in my fourth year at the SCCA when I received the upsetting news that my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. However, I didn’t have much …