Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 26, 2013
Thanksgiving and other holidays offer great opportunities to discuss your family's medical history.
Every November since 2004, the Surgeon General has encouraged Americans to discuss and record health conditions shared among their family members.
Your family health history is important because it may impact your risk for developing cancer and other chronic diseases. For example, if one of your family members had cancer, your primary care doctor needs to know. Being able to identify an increased risk for certain conditions can help you and your doctor take action to keep you healthy. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that patients who used a web-based tool to collect health information were more likely to have their family history documented.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 25, 2013
A low-dose CT (computed tomography) scan is an important tool for detecting lung cancer early.
More than 228,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013, according to the National Cancer Institute. With November marking Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Pasi Janne, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), answers some key questions about the disease:
1. What are the different types of lung cancer?
Lung cancer develops in the tissue of the lung, usually in the cells that line the air passages. There are several types of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell lung cancer — Non-small cell lung cancer is named for the size of the cells when viewed under a microscope. It begins when epithelial cells inside the lining of the lungs grow rapidly or uncontrollably, often forming a tumor. This is the most common form of lung cancer.
- Small cell lung cancer — Small cell lung cancer also is named for the size of the cells when viewed under a microscope. Affecting approximately 15 percent of lung cancer patients, it typically starts in the bronchial passages.
- Mesothelioma — Although it is not technically a lung cancer, mesothelioma shares many of the same symptoms as lung cancer. Malignant mesothelioma is a disease in which cancer cells form in the linings of the organs, most often the pleura and sometimes the peritoneum.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 21, 2013
Your health is immediately improved when you quit smoking and these improvements continue for many years.
Today’s post is from Brigham and Women’s Hospital thoracic (chest) radiologist Francine Jacobson, MD, MPH, who specializes in lung cancer prevention and screening. Dr. Jacobson serves as a lung health resource for both her patients and their physicians.
Today marks the 36th annual Great American Smokeout, held annually in the US on the third Thursday in November. Public support for the willpower and the example set by not smoking, even for just one day, is a powerful accomplishment with which to embark on the holiday season – opened by the counting of blessings and overeating on Thanksgiving and closed by resolutions for self-improvement in the New Year.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 20, 2013
Scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are building one of the world’s largest databases of genetic abnormalities in cancer.
The goal of personalized medicine is to match a treatment to the unique characteristics of an individual patient: his or her personal and family medical history, age, body size and other physical characteristics, and medical test results. But fundamentally, it is the DNA blueprint within cells that strongly influences a person’s risks of disease, how illnesses play out, and which drugs are likely to be most effective and with the fewest side effects. This is where the newest phase of personalized medicine is heading.
Today, the power of genomics and other DNA tools to uncover molecular patterns in the cells of patients – or in cancer patients, in the cells of their tumors – offers the potential to deliver precision treatment with maximum effect and safety. These molecular patterns reflect differences in the activity of genes and proteins, or abnormal changes, such as mutations, in the DNA code of genes that increasingly are being used to select the best treatment.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 7, 2013
A recent study shows that many women who had a cancer as a child can become pregnant.
Many women think that if they had cancer as a child, they might never have children. A recent study shows that though it may be little harder, many of these women are able to get pregnant.
Although women who survived childhood cancer face an increased risk of infertility, nearly two-thirds of those who tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for at least a year eventually conceived, according to researchers at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. This is similar to the rate of eventual pregnancy among all clinically infertile women.
The new study is based on data from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. The study followed five-year survivors from 26 institutions who were under 21 when diagnosed with cancer. Researchers studied 3,531 sexually active women, age 18-39, who survived cancer and compared them to a group of 1,366 female siblings who did not have cancer.
Overall, 15.9 percent of women who survived childhood cancer were affected by infertility, with 12.9 percent trying to conceive for at least one year without success. (The remaining cancer survivors included in the infertile group had experienced ovarian failure and may not have even attempted pregnancy.) Compared to their siblings, the cancer survivors had a 50 percent higher risk of infertility. Despite higher rates of infertility, nearly two-thirds of cancer survivors conceived, on average, after another six months. Among the comparison group of clinically infertile siblings, it took another five months to conceive, on average.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 30, 2013
Investigators found that many women opt for a preventive mastectomy despite knowing it will be unlikely to improve their chance of survival.
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, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The research team, which included investigators from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), found that many women opt for the procedure – known as a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or CPM – despite knowing it will be unlikely to improve their chance of survival.
“An increasing percentage of women treated for early-stage breast cancer are choosing to have CPM,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Shoshana Rosenberg, of Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. “The trend is particularly notable among younger women.”
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 3, 2013
For the 21st consecutive year, Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals.
For the 21st consecutive year, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals, ranking ninth. The Honor Roll highlights just 18 hospitals, out of nearly 5,000 nationwide, for their breadth and depth of clinical excellence. We’ve gathered some recent blog posts from our ranked clinical categories to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of our doctors, nurses, researchers, and others.
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology supports women through all stages of their lives – from planning a family to childbirth, menopause, and beyond.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 1, 2013
New research suggests that aspirin use may lower the risk of colon cancer.
The earliest forms of aspirin were discovered centuries ago. Originally, aspirin was used as a pain reliever. In 1989, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) published the results of the Physician’s Health Study, which found that aspirin also helped prevent heart attacks. Now, nearly 25 years later, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have published new research suggesting that aspirin may have another use – lowering the risk of colon cancer.
Using data from the Women’s Health Study, a team of researchers led by Dr. Nancy Cook, BWH Division of Preventive Medicine, analyzed data collected from roughly 40,000 women aged 45 years or older. Approximately half of the women studied received low-dose (100 mg) aspirin every other day for ten years. The other half of the study participants received a placebo or inactive pill. Researchers continued to gather data from women who agreed to follow up for 18 years. At the end of the ten-year study period, there was no difference between the two groups in terms of overall cancer rates. However, at the end of the 18-year follow-up period, those women who had taken low-dose aspirin had a 21 percent lower rate of colorectal cancer versus those who had taken the placebo. The study did not find any differences in the occurrence of other cancer types or cancer deaths between the two groups.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 29, 2013
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has endorsed a BWH-led team's recommended use of low-dose CT for lung cancer screening.
In 2012, we published a post about the recommendations of a lung cancer screening and surveillance task force, led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) physicians, to expand the use of low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans for patients at high risk of lung cancer. Now, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of primary care physicians that evaluates preventive health services, has endorsed the recommendations of the BWH task force.
“More Americans die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. This is a firm and determined recommendation in favor of screening, and there is high certainty that patients will benefit from this recommendation,” says Dr. Michael Jaklitsch, a thoracic surgeon at BWH and co-chair of a lung screening and surveillance task force established by the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS).
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 21, 2013
Most pancreatic cysts are benign, but some are much more likely to turn cancerous than others.
Today, computed tomography (CT) and other imaging tests are commonly ordered for a broad range of medical reasons. Sometimes, however, they reveal something unsuspected – an incidental finding. Among these incidental findings are pancreatic cysts, fluid-filled sacs that form in the pancreas.
Pancreatic cysts are common and many times do not cause symptoms. Most are benign, but some are much more likely to turn cancerous than others.
“We are developing ways to better analyze these cysts to decide which ones need to be removed and which ones can be monitored,” says Dr. Linda Lee, a therapeutic endoscopist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Dr. Lee specializes in endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration, a technique that is used to remove fluid from the cyst for evaluation.
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