Medical Minute 11-17: Taking a Shot at Cancer

By: Melissa Medalie Email
By: Melissa Medalie Email

Vaccine Target Number One: Lung Cancer.

Betty Jimenez is part of a trial testing a treatment that targets a protein found in one-third of non-small cell lung cancer patients.

"I think it's as promising as anything I've seen in my career," said George F. Geils, Jr., M.D., Roper St. Francis Oncologist/Hematologist.

Early studies announced at a national meeting show that after surgery, patients who get the vaccine have up to a 43% lower risk of their cancer coming back.

Vaccine Target Number Two: Advanced Prostate Cancer.

"We are talking about therapeutic vaccines that treat cancer by revving up the immune system," said CG Philip Kantoff, M.D.m Chief Clinical Research Officer Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA.

In a three-year study of an experimental vaccine called prostvac-VF, 30% of patients who got the vaccine were alive only 17% of those who got a placebo survived that long. A second vaccine recently FDA approved called Provenge improved three-year survival by nearly 40% .

"I want to be part of something that works and so people will not die at younger ages and can benefit from it," said Bud Dougherty, a prostate vaccine patient.

Finally - a breast cancer vaccine is in the works at Cleveland Clinic.

The vaccine would tell the immune system to kill the cancer just when it's starting to form.

"I see the immune system as a weapon system, a very powerful biologic weapon that we can use to target in a very defined way like a smart bomb," said Vincent Tuohy, Ph.D.

Three vaccines taking aim at three of the most common kinds of cancer.

Roper St. Francis HealthcarePhysicians Referral Line Charleston, SC(843) 402- CAREMonina Wagner Media Relations Manager Cleveland Clinic Cleveland, 444 - 2412.

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