10 Things We Learned About Progress Against Cancer in 2016

A review of cancer research developments in 20162016 was not a year for big breakthroughs in cancer research and improving access to quality care. And yet, it was a year in which many of the issues that need to be addressed if we want to ever see those breakthroughs were front and center.

Those issues include the need for collaborative research and sustained research funding, finding ways to make immune system treatments safer and effective for more patients and addressing the problem of outrageously high drug prices.  Continue reading

Charity Review: Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Reviewing the charity, Breast Cancer Research Foundation--its mission, financials and what it reports about how donations are used.Many of us are interested in making donations in support of cancer research. But figuring out which organizations will make the most effective use of our contributions isn’t always an easy task. This post is the second in a series in which we’re looking at individual charities that focus primarily on cancer research.

Making a choice based on value for our money means considering factors such as how an organization uses the money it raises, its financial health, and how transparent it is about what has been accomplished with the contributions it has received.

In this post, we review the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, including its mission and approach, history, notable financial facts and results reporting. Continue reading

Cancer Clinical Trials: Why Don’t More of Us Participate?

Why don't more cancer patients participate in clinical trials?A recent study got me thinking again about one of the central issues around clinical trials — why don’t more of us participate?

Less than 5 percent of adult cancer patients overall participate in clinical trials, and the rate is even lower for patients from minority populations.

Some of the concerns that keep people from joining clinical trials arise from misperceptions about how clinical trials work. But often patients don’t know to ask about clinical trials and their doctors don’t mention them.

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Metastatic Breast Cancer: How Can We Accelerate Progress?

Genomic studies will play an important role in precision medicine for metastatic breast cancer.For a long time, there has been a critical need for research that is focused specifically on metastatic breast cancer. That means understanding what causes metastasis and how we can intervene to shut down this process even after it has started. Although a true “cure” may not be possible, the question is whether we can treat the disease in such a way that patients live for a very long time with good quality of life.

That should not be so far-fetched an idea. HIV/AIDS not long ago was usually fatal, and now this disease can be managed as a chronic condition with a combination of drugs that patients take for the rest of their lives. Could something like this be possible for breast cancer that has become metastatic?

There have been some amazing advances in the treatment of metastatic melanoma and metastatic lung cancer using immune system therapies. Why have we not seen similar advances in treating metastatic breast cancer?

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Clinical Trials: How Can Patients Benefit More?

Sharing of data from clinical trials could help accelerate progress against cancer.These days the media hype around cancer “breakthroughs” seems to have reached a new high. There have been advances, but there is still such a long way to go before we can say we have real breakthroughs that are changing the outlook for most patients.

There are likely many reasons why progress is so slow. But one thing that would almost certainly make a big difference is if there were true collaboration among researchers conducting clinical trials.

Clinical trials are expensive and time consuming. Patients in clinical trials have chosen to participate not just for their own benefit but also to make a contribution for the greater good. And yet, the knowledge we as a society draw from many clinical trials is often incomplete or even nonexistent.

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Review of “The Death of Cancer” by Vincent T. DeVita Jr. and Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn

The Death of CancerThe title of this book certainly got my attention and made me curious about what the author had to say. Is the “death” of cancer, or the end of cancer as a deadly disease, really possible? Can we actually win the war on cancer, which has been pronounced a failure by many?

Dr. Vincent T. DeVita Jr. joined the National Cancer Institute as a new doctor during the 1960s. There, he worked directly on some of the most important developments in cancer research coming out of that decade, including the development of a cure for Hodgkin’s lymphoma using combination chemotherapy, a treatment approach that was viewed as exceedingly radical at the time. Continue reading

10 Things We Learned About Progress Against Cancer in 2015

A review of major developments in cancer research and breast cancer in 2015.Looking back over the past year, what were some of the big things we learned that contribute to the progress that’s being made against cancer?

Here are ten of the stories that stood out most for me. Some involved new treatments or evolving treatment approaches. Others were about important policy issues, including the high costs of cancer care, and the pressing need for solutions. And again this year we were reminded of the importance of accuracy when it comes to reporting about celebrity cancer stories. Continue reading

5 Cancer Research Stories Worth Following – Summer 2015

Cancer research news for Summer 2015 reflected a growing emphasis on matching patients with treatments based on the molecular characteristics of their cancer.What’s exciting in cancer research right now? In this post, I’ll review several of the most interesting cancer research stories that have been in the news this Summer.

These are a few of the recent stories that seem to have the greatest potential impact, at least from my perspective, and that I know I’ll want to follow as they develop further.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its annual meeting in June. A major theme reflected in numerous reports about the meeting was the need for more intensive efforts to match patients with treatments based on the molecular characteristics of their cancer, and incorporating this approach into clinical trials. Continue reading

Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer: A Look At New Research Findings

New research sheds light on the role of progesterone in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.A recent article in the journal Nature describes some interesting new discoveries that have been made about the role of the hormone progesterone in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.

The role of progesterone and its receptor in breast cancer has not been well understood. And there has been some controversy about the value of this biomarker in selecting treatment for patients.

The study results, if confirmed, could potentially lead to improved treatment options for women with this common sub-type of breast cancer. Continue reading

Ken Burns’ “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies”

The Ken Burns film Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies highlights the contributions of patients, especially children, to cancer research over the years.The Ken Burns film, “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” based on the book by Siddhartha Mukherjee, is a compelling story of the progress that’s been made against cancer over the last several decades.

And we have indeed come a long way in 30 or 40 years. Yet, as the move makes clear, we are far from a “cure” and continued investment in research is going to be critical to building on what has been learned and accomplished so far.

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