Twenty-Two Years and Counting – Brigham and Women’s Hospital Ranked on U.S. News Honor Roll

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 31, 2014

BWH has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals.

For the twenty-second year in a row, 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 17 hospitals, out of nearly 5,000 nationwide, for their breadth and depth of clinical excellence.

We’ve gathered a few recent blog posts in our top ranked clinical categories to recognize the dedication and accomplishments of our doctors, nurses, researchers, and other members of our clinical teams.

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Five Myths about Breast Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 23, 2014

Talk to your doctor to avoid misinformation about breast cancer.

Cancer experts from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute work together to provide cancer patients the latest therapies, including access to innovative clinical trials through Brigham and Women’s/Dana-Farber Cancer Center.  Today’s post originally appeared on Insight, the blog of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

There’s a broad range of news and information about breast cancer online. That creates wonderful opportunities to learn about prevention, treatment, cures, and recurrence. But it also means you may run into confusing misinformation and oversimplifications.

Here are some popular misconceptions:

MYTH #1

Most breast cancer is hereditary. While it’s true that a woman’s risk factor for developing breast cancer doubles if a first-degree relative has the disease, this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story.

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What’s the Difference Between Melanoma and Skin Cancer?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 29, 2014

It is important to visit your dermatologist with any questions or concerns about moles or unusual areas of the skin.

Many people consider skin cancer to be synonymous with melanoma. As May marks Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, it is important to understand that melanoma is only one type of skin cancer. Other forms of the disease are less aggressive and more common.

Melanoma is the rarest form of skin cancer, with approximately 76,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. It is also the most aggressive and the most likely to spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which are the cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis. Possible signs of melanoma include a change in the appearance of a mole or pigmented area of the skin.

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Transoral Robotic Surgery: Minimally Invasive Treatment for Head and Neck Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 21, 2014

With robotic surgery (left), there is no incision and no scars, while open surgery (right) involves an incicsion from the lip to the ear.

With robotic surgery (left), there is no incision and no scars, while open surgery (right) involves an incicsion from the lip to the ear.

Head and neck (oropharyngeal) cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the U.S., with nearly 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Though tobacco and alcohol use can raise the risk of developing the disease, exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) poses an even greater risk. People who have had an oral HPV infection have a 50 times greater risk of developing head and neck cancer versus the general population. Currently, nearly three quarters of head and neck tumors test positive for HPV. A growing number of these newly diagnosed cases are among men in their forties and fifties.

Since the early 1990s, patients with head and neck cancers have been treated primarily with chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery has been avoided as a first line treatment because head and neck tumors can be difficult to reach, requiring invasive surgery that can affect organ function, lead to swallowing difficulties, and require a feeding tube.

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Sun Safety – Reducing Your Melanoma Risk

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 5, 2014

Seek shade when the sun's rays are strongest – between 10am and 2pm, or when your shadow is shorter than you.

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 (AAD) 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.
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 an early August day. To help you stay safe in the sun, here are some tips from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) dermatologist Dr. Deborah Scott, Director of the Laser and Skin Health Center, Co-Director of the Multicultural Dermatology Program, and Co-Director of the Hair Loss Clinic.

As you prepare to head outdoors, I would like to remind you that excessive sun exposure is one of the primary causes of skin cancer of all types, including melanoma. More than two million people are diagnosed with more than 3.5 million skin cancers annually, and this includes people of all skin colors. Many of these skin cancers could have been prevented with protection from the sun’s rays.

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Meningiomas: Five Things You Should Know

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 30, 2014

A meningioma may reach a relatively large size before it causes symptoms.

Today’s blog post is about meningiomas, a common type of primary brain tumor, in observation of Brain Tumor Awareness Month during May.

A meningioma is a type of tumor that develops from the meninges, the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Most meningiomas (90 percent) are categorized as benign tumors, with the remaining 10 percent being atypical or malignant. In many cases, benign meningiomas grow slowly. This means that depending upon where it is located, a meningioma may reach a relatively large size before it causes symptoms.

Meningiomas account for about 27 percent of primary brain tumors, making them the most common tumor of that type. Here are some common questions about meningiomas, with answers from our neurosurgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH):

What are the risk factors of meningiomas?

Meningiomas are most common in people between the ages of 40 and 70, and are more common in women than in men. Meningiomas are very rare in children, with pediatric cases accounting for only 1.5 percent of the total. There are not many predisposing factors associated with the development of meningiomas, but a few include:

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Cocoa and Multivitamins: Two Keys to Better Health?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 23, 2014

Does the cocoa bean contain heart health benefits?

Is there something valuable for your heart inside the cocoa bean?

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Mars, Incorporated are partnering to conduct the largest-ever clinical investigation of the heart health benefits of cocoa flavanols – especially their role in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease.

Flavanols are natural compounds that can be found in cocoa beans and a variety of other food sources. Although cocoa flavanols can be found in some forms of chocolate, they can be provided in significantly higher concentrations as a capsule or powder (mix). In this particular trial, the cocoa flavanols will be provided in a capsule and compared to a placebo.

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Colorectal Cancer: Do Men and Women Experience Different Symptoms?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 26, 2014

Men and women generally exhibit the same colorectal cancer symptoms.

While there are slightly more incidences of colorectal cancer in men (71,860 new cases projected in the U.S. in 2014) than women (65,000), both men and women generally exhibit the same symptoms of the disease, says Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, clinical director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

“Many patients don’t have symptoms, but they’re diagnosed because they get a screening colonoscopy,” says Dr. Meyerhardt. Common symptoms for patients who do show signs of colon or rectal cancer include blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. Some patients also have symptoms related to anemia, including increased tiredness or shortness of breath, or may be found to be anemic from routine blood work.

The risk factors for colorectal cancer — which include age, family history of the disease, or having Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — are also similar for men and women, Dr. Meyerhardt says. However, some lifestyle choices also can increase risk. These include obesity, lack of physical activity, low vitamin D, and consuming a high amount of red meat, which may differ between men and women.

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Colorectal Cancer: Five Things You Need To Know

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 4, 2014

Thanks to increased awareness, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S., with about 143,000 new patients diagnosed in the U.S. last year. But thanks to increased awareness about screenings, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years.

“For the most part, colorectal cancer is a curable and preventable disease,” says Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, clinical director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. “It is a cancer where we have very good data that shows screening prevents disease and saves lives.”

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Your Health History May Define Your Future

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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