New Developments in Treating Brain Tumors

Posted by Blog Administrator May 24, 2012

David A. Reardon

David Reardon: "Analysis of tumors means we can recommend clinical trials that offer patients the most promise and hope."

More than 600,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor – one that begins and stays in the brain – and over 60,000 adults and children will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. In recognition of May as Brain Tumor Awareness Month, we asked Dr. David Reardon, clinical director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’sCancerCenter, for the latest advances in brain tumor research and patient care.

Q. What are some of the challenges in treating brain tumors that you’re researching?

A.  For one thing, glioblastomas – the most common and aggressive primary brain tumors – are genetically very complex. The tumor cells are driven by multiple abnormal gene pathways, so we’re starting to use combinations of targeted drugs in “cocktails” that can block several pathways at once.

In addition, glioblastoma cells are adept at developing resistance to chemotherapy. We can now measure some enzymes whose levels predict which patients are more likely to develop resistance to a given drug.

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Preventing Cancer’s Return

Posted by Blog Administrator May 21, 2012

Dr. Ligebel helps Sylvia develop an exercise routine

Dr. Jennifer Ligibel (right) is one of numerous researchers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center looking at the impact of exercise and other lifestyle factors on cancer recurrence.

While certain habits are known to increase risk of developing cancer, little information has been available about the effect of lifestyle after cancer diagnosis – until recently. Mounting research is showing that diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors can make a difference in the chances of cancer recurrence and survival after cancer develops.

“We are seeing that the choices people make can influence results,” says Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, Director of Clinical Trials in the Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

Studies led by Dr. Meyerhardt have found that rates of colon cancer recurrence are lower in people who eat a healthy diet, exercise, and take aspirin. Conversely, a diet high in red meat, refined grains (such as white bread), and sugary desserts may increase risk of colon cancer recurrence.

Research has found that women who are physically active after breast cancer diagnosis have a 30 to 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer recurrence, breast cancer death, and overall death compared with sedentary individuals. Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, a medical oncologist and researcher in the Center for Breast Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, has explored processes linking cancer and exercise, as well as ways to motivate sedentary cancer survivors to begin exercising.

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