What Are Carcinoid Tumors?

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

Carcinoid tumor cells.

Carcinoid tumor cells.

Carcinoid tumors are rare, often slow-growing tumors that form from neuroendocrine cells found throughout the body. Carcinoid tumors most commonly arise in the gastrointestinal system, including the appendix, small intestine, or rectum, but may occur in other sites, including the lungs.

In most cases, there is no clear cause of carcinoid tumors. There does not appear to be a strong association between cases of these tumors and typical cancer risk factors such as smoking and exposure to environmental toxins. In rare cases, carcinoid tumors can be linked to hereditary conditions such as multiple endocrine neoplasia types 1 and 2 and Von-Hippel Lindau disease.

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Finding Happiness Despite Stage IV Lung Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 29, 2016

joann-and-girls

Joann (center) with her daughters, Mei and Lia.

Today’s post is written by Joann Totten, a patient at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

As a non-smoker, I never imagined I would be diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, let alone at age 50. But that’s what happened on Aug. 5, 2015, just six weeks after I started experiencing a non-productive cough. The doctors felt certain it was bronchitis, but as a radiation therapist for more than 20 years, I advocated for myself and insisted on a chest x-ray, which came back a bit abnormal. After additional testing for tuberculosis and pneumonia, I began experiencing shortness of breath and had another chest x-ray and CT scan. When I saw the scan, which was hard to believe was mine; I knew immediately I had cancer. A few days later, a biopsy confirmed my diagnosis: non-small cell lung cancer, stage IV.

Although it’s been more than a year, it’s still so hard to believe I have lung cancer. I never smoked, I exercise, and I eat very healthy; I thought I took pretty good care of myself. But cancer doesn’t discriminate; all you need are lungs to be diagnosed with this disease. Read More »

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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