Speeding up Treatment Decisions for Blood Cancer Patients

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 4, 2015

Genetic mutations associated with certain blood cancers can be detected by testing blood or bone marrow samples.

For patients with aggressive types of leukemia and other blood cancers, quickly identifying and starting the right treatment can make all the difference. In a major advance in the care of these patients, physicians at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) have begun using the Rapid Heme Panel, a high-tech genetic test that provides, within a week, an unprecedented amount of critical information to aid the choice of treatment.

In this video, Dr. Jon Aster, Director of Hematopathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and one of the developers of the Rapid Heme Panel, explains how the test uses blood or bone marrow samples to search for alterations in genes that are frequently associated with leukemias and myeloproliferative disorders – detecting key mutations that determine prognosis and the specific drugs the cancer is most likely to respond to. The Rapid Heme Panel testing is performed at the Center for Advanced Molecular Diagnostics at BWH.

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Precision Cancer Medicine: Five Things You Should Know

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 2, 2015

Precision medicine involves testing DNA from patients’ tumors to identify the mutations or other genetic changes that drive their cancer.

Precision medicine is changing the way cancer is being studied and treated. Here are five important things to know.

1. Precision medicine can improve diagnosis and treatment.

Physicians have long recognized that the same disease can behave differently from one patient to another, and that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Precision cancer medicine makes diagnosis of cancer and other diseases more accurate and evaluates the specific genetic makeup of  their tumors to select the safest and most effective treatments for them.

In cancer, precision medicine involves testing DNA from patients’ tumors to identify the mutations or other genetic changes that drive their cancer. Physicians then may be able to select a treatment for a particular patient’s cancer that best matches, or targets, the culprit mutations in the tumor DNA. Such therapies are becoming more widespread.

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Five Things Young Women Should Know about Breast Cancer

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

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

While the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are age 55 or older, about 14,500 women age 45 and younger are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year. Here are some facts about breast cancer all young women should know.

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Reducing Surgeries with Genetic Testing

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 10, 2012

Each year, tens of thousands of patients have all or part of their thyroids removed to rule out cancer because of suspicious, but uncertain, test results. In the majority of these cases, however, the suspicious thyroid nodules are ultimately determined to be benign.

Genetic testing may reduce unneeded thyroid surgeries

New research, led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) endocrinologist Dr. Erik Alexander, has discovered that a novel diagnostic test, measuring the expression of 167 genes, shows promise in more accurately determining which patients actually require thyroid surgery.

Thyroid nodules are common and can be an early sign of thyroid cancer. Ultrasound-guided needle biopsies accurately identify about 65 to 75 percent of nodules as benign and approximately five to ten percent of thyroid nodule biopsies as malignant. The remaining 15 to 30 percent of thyroid nodules gathered through needle biopsy cannot be clearly identified as either benign or malignant.  For these patients, there remains serious concern about thyroid cancer, and in most cases, all or part of the thyroid is removed for final diagnosis.  However, in the majority of these cases, the thyroid nodule turns out to be benign and the patient has undergone unnecessary surgery.

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