We think of vaccines as being tools to prevent disease. But when we talk about cancer vaccines, it’s so much more. These drugs attach to a protein on cancer cells and signal the body that it should fight (normally, your body doesn’t see cancer as foreign and lets it grow wild). So, you are using your body’s own immune system to kill cancer cells rather than poison like chemo.
There’s a good blog post here:
What I like best about this post, besides that the researcher thinks breast cancer vaccines will be available in the next 10 years? This: I am a metastatic breast cancer patient using Herceptin. This group lives an average of 18-23 months after diagnosis. In a small, initial study of a breast cancer vaccine, 80% of metastatic breast cancer patients on Herceptin were still alive after 3 years. Who knows how long some of them will live. In another study, at the nine-year mark 40% are still alive.
I like those stats better than the 18-23 months, for sure. I’ve been in treatment 12 months already and I certainly believe I have more than a year ahead of me.