The Latest Research and Treatment for Adult Brain Tumors

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 5, 2016

Patrick Wen, M.D. and David Reardon, M.D. look at a computer with an image of an MRI. Photographed for BWH onclolgy advances.

Patrick Wen, MD, (left) and David Reardon, MD, are exploring new treatment options for adult brain tumors.

Historically, brain tumors have been some of the most challenging types of cancers to treat. A protective barrier around the brain – called the “blood-brain barrier” – can prevent cancer treatments from reaching the tumor. Recently, increased interest in immunotherapy has given new hope to getting through this barrier.

“We know the immune system can get into the brain to fight infections and inflammatory conditions,” says David Reardon, MD, Clinical Director in the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. “Our current research is moving forward to a level where we’re critically confirming that these immunotherapy drugs are getting into the brain and making a difference.”

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Breast Cancer – New Surgical Advances

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 3, 2016

Breast cancer management today often incorporates a “less is more” approach.

Breast cancer management today often incorporates a “less is more” approach.

Current trends in breast cancer management incorporate a “less is more” approach in many cases. This includes surgical treatment for breast cancer.

“We are finding that we can perform less extensive surgery and offer easier approaches for many patients with breast cancer, while still achieving excellent outcomes,” says Dr. Tari A. King, Chief of Breast Surgery and a member of the Breast Oncology Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

Previous surgical treatment plans, for example, included full lymph node surgery for the presence of any cancer in the lymph nodes located under the arm. This can result in long-term arm swelling, a condition known as lymphedema. Recent studies have shown that, in patients with a limited amount of cancer in the lymph nodes (cancer in one or two nodes), it is not necessary to remove all of the remaining nodes.  The lymph nodes can remain in place and the cancer can be successfully treated with other modalities, such as medical and radiation therapies.

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Melanoma – What You Should Know

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 28, 2016

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and the most common of all cancers among 25- to 29-year-olds in the U.S. The American Academy of Dermatology designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday®, a day to focus on raising awareness about this dangerous disease and other types of skin cancer.

 

Sun-SafetySun Safety – Reducing Your Melanoma Risk

Reducing your exposure to ultraviolet rays, from sunlight and artificial light, is one of the most significant ways to reduce your risk of developing melanoma. Although it isn’t summer yet, the effects of the sun now are similar to that of a mid-August day. Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) dermatologist Dr. Deborah Scott offers some tips to help you stay safe in the sun.

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Circadian Rhythms’ Impact on Your Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 26, 2016

The circadian system signals the body to increase production of a certain protein that promotes blood clotting at about the same time as a person normally wakes up.

Circadian rhythms are biological processes that regulate numerous body functions throughout the day and recur according to roughly a 24-hour cycle.

Why do people have an increased risk for heart attacks in the morning? Why is asthma more severe at night? Why are epilepsy symptoms more prevalent at certain times of the day? Research suggests that these and other tendencies are driven by our circadian rhythms (body clock).

Understanding Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms are biological processes that regulate numerous body functions throughout the day and recur according to roughly a 24-hour cycle. The timing of these processes is controlled by the brain’s central clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (located in the hypothalamus), as well as peripheral clocks located in virtually all organs and tissues. Although circadian rhythms are inborn, they adjust according to external cues – especially the presence or absence of light.

Studying Their Impact on Health

Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Medical Chronobiology Program study how the circadian system impacts our health. They have shown, for example, that the system signals the body to increase production of a certain protein that promotes blood clotting at about the same time as a person normally wakes up. This may partially account for why we observe more heart attacks, stroke, and sudden cardiac death during the early morning hours.

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Defying the Odds: Neurosurgery Patient Walks Again

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 21, 2016

Anthony Hodges is walking again after a car accident left him paralyzed.

Dr. Yi Lu, a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), was moved to tears when 23-year-old Anthony Hodges walked into the Neurosurgery clinic for a follow-up appointment.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says Dr. Lu, who performed emergency spine surgery on Anthony after a car accident left him paralyzed. “With his type of complete spinal cord injury, Anthony had less than a five percent chance of ever walking again. His case was a miracle.”

In July 2015, Anthony, the former captain of the Salem State University basketball team, was riding in the passenger seat during a car accident. The crash left Anthony unable to move his hands, legs, or feet. He was rushed to BWH for surgery, where doctors determined that he had a complete spinal cord injury – an injury that often results in the permanent loss of function below the injury site, which, in Anthony’s case, was a spinal disc near the back of his neck. During surgery, which occurred just six hours after the accident, a surgical team removed a broken vertebra that was pressing on Anthony’s spinal cord and replaced it with a bone graft that was stabilized with a titanium plate.

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New Evidence that Peanut Allergy Can Be Prevented

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 19, 2016

Recent research suggests that peanut allergy can be prevented through the early introduction of peanut into a child’s diet.

Recent research suggests that peanut allergy can be prevented through the early introduction of peanut into a child’s diet.

In only the last 13 years, the prevalence of peanut allergy in the U.S. has quadrupled. Recent research, however, strongly suggests that peanut allergy – now the nation’s leading cause of food allergy-related anaphylaxis and death – can be prevented through the early introduction of peanut into a child’s diet. According to Joyce T. Hsu, MD, a food allergy specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), the Learning Early about Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study may represent the key to reversing our society’s disturbing food allergy trend.

“LEAP may be the most pivotal food allergy study for our generation,” says Dr. Hsu. “Since the results were released last year, we have been trying to increase awareness about this new thinking for peanut allergy.”

The former thinking, at least in this country, says Dr. Hsu, was that parents should avoid giving their children highly allergenic foods during the first few years of life. In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that children deemed to be at risk of developing food allergy not eat peanuts until the age of three. However, cases of peanut allergy continued to rise, and the AAP withdrew its recommendation in 2008.

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Boston Marathon 2016: Running to Support Trauma Research

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 14, 2016

Margarita Ramos, MD, MPH, a research fellow in the Department of Surgery, will run her first marathon on April 18 as a member of the BWH Stepping Strong Marathon Team.

Margarita Ramos, MD, MPH, will run her first marathon on April 18 as a member of the BWH Stepping Strong Marathon Team.

Margarita Ramos, MD, MPH, a research fellow in the Brigham and Women’s Department of Surgery, will run her first marathon on April 18 as a member of the BWH Stepping Strong Marathon Team, supporting innovative trauma research and clinical care.

“I can’t wait to join thousands of runners at the Boston Marathon who believe in making a difference,” Dr. Ramos says. “It will be a day to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit.”

Dr. Ramos says she is excited to run in honor of Gillian Reny, a family friend and Boston Marathon bombing survivor, who was treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). As a spectator at the 2013 Boston Marathon, Dr. Ramos quickly learned from another friend of the Renys that Gillian had been critically injured and transported to BWH. Dr. Ramos hurried to the hospital to see how she could help.

“As a trusted friend, I wanted to do everything I could to help Gillian’s family understand the steps the surgical trauma team was taking to care for her,” says Dr. Ramos. “I reviewed X-ray images with them and answered their questions. It takes a multidisciplinary medical team to care for our trauma patients, and I was glad to participate.”

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Helping Musicians Heal

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 12, 2016

Dr. Michael Charness (pictured above) provides highly specialized evaluation and care for musicians with performance-related injuries and disorders.

Dr. Michael Charness (pictured above) provides highly specialized evaluation and care for musicians with performance-related injuries and disorders.

Nearly 35 years ago, Dr. Michael Charness, a neurologist and Director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Performing Arts Clinic, was playing in a piano trio in San Francisco when he noticed that he was having trouble controlling his hand. He eventually discovered that excessive playing had resulted in cubital tunnel syndrome, a condition in which the ulnar nerve in the elbow becomes pinched – leading to pain, hand weakness, numbness, and tingling.

Cubital and carpal tunnel syndromes are common among musicians, and sprains and strains from repetitive use can lead to more serious issues, like tendonitis. While surgery enabled him to return to the piano bench, Dr. Charness realized that there weren’t many resources available to musicians to help them avoid or treat injuries.

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Food Choices during Pregnancy Matter

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 7, 2016

Food Choices during Pregnancy Matter

Dr. Sarbattama Sen, a BWH neonatologist, has found that pro-inflammatory diets during pregnancy are associated with lower-than-expected birthweight in certain groups.

The effects of a woman’s food choices during pregnancy and the impact on her health and the health of her baby are not well understood.

“We have known for some time that diet plays a key role in inflammation and that excessive inflammation is associated with negative health effects in adults. There have been few studies, however, investigating the role of inflammation in pregnancy, when both the health of the mother and the fetus are at stake,” says Dr. Sarbattama Sen, a neonatologist in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

A recent study led by BWH researchers used the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) to score a woman’s diet during pregnancy and to measure the influence of her diet on both inflammation during pregnancy and on maternal and infant outcomes before and after childbirth. The DII assigns an inflammatory score to food components. Previous studies in non-pregnant adults have found that some food components, such as caffeine and trans, saturated, and monounsaturated fats, have a pro-inflammatory effect, while others, such as vitamin A, beta carotene, fiber and magnesium, have an anti-inflammatory effect.

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Understanding and Preventing Tennis Injuries

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 5, 2016

Tennis has many proven health benefits. However, injuries can and do occur at all skill levels, from beginners to the pros.

Tennis has many proven health benefits. However, injuries can and do occur at all skill levels, from beginners to the pros.

Today’s post is from Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Team Physician for Stonehill College Athletics, and Kimberly Glerum, a research assistant in the Women’s Sports Medicine Program.

With warmer weather and sunny days around the corner, many of us will be eager to get outside and hit the tennis courts this spring and summer. Often known as a “lifetime” sport, tennis is a great way for people of all ages and levels of athletic ability to stay in shape. Tennis has many proven health benefits, such as improving cardiovascular fitness, balance, motor control, hand-eye coordination, bone strength, and flexibility. However, injuries can and do occur at all skill levels, from beginners to the pros. Below, we describe some of the most common tennis injuries, as well as tips on how to avoid them.

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