Things You Need To Know About Cancer Vaccine

cancer vaccines being administered

Over 1 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year. It is a medical condition occurring when there is rapid and uncontrollable growth of cells in the body. It targets any body part and weakens the immune system.

Cancer has been a killer disease as early as 1900-1600 BC. For many years, medical society has been experimenting new ways and technology hoping to find a cure or preventive measure to stop cancer. In recent years, studies about chemotherapy, radiation and surgery has proven to treat cancer.

However, prevention is still better than cure. That is why cancer vaccines that aim to combat existing cancer and prevent other cancer from developing are being looked into.

At this time, the use of cancer vaccines as an alternative medication is still under the experiment stage and has not yet gained approval from U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA). It is currently given to cancer patients that have lower percentage of being cured. The effectiveness and possible risks are still being evaluated before it will be offered to the public.  Researchers hope that this alternative medication will break grounds in medical procedures in handling cancer.

Latest research shows that cancer vaccine can be as effective, if not better in combating any type of cancer. They are expected to work on strengthening immune system by using cells or substances like cytokines, the protein secreted by the body that regulate immunity. It is also expected to stop the growth of existing tumor and prevent cancer cells from coming back. On the other hand, the most powerful cells found in the body that greatly helps the immune system is called Dendritic cells. Often called as immune cells, they are great help in fighting infectious disease.

Cancer vaccines are being made from patient's cancer cells. These cells are being exposed to radiation or heat while being grown in the laboratory. This process prevents the cells from growing or multiplying.

At this time, studies about vaccines are focused on preventing specific cancer such as pancreas, ovary, cervix, prostate gland, bladder, breast, rectum, skin, etc. Experiment shows amazing results in strengthening immune system while being tried to animals. But success rate for human experiment has not been as impressive but considered promising.
Types of cancer vaccines:

1. Antigen- Specific approach – Aims to regulate the immune system's response to a specific antigen that may cause tumor. The established downside of this approach is the challenge to identify the antigens causing tumor.

2. Whole Cell approach – The process in making a vaccine where the cells are either coming directly from the patient or are being grown in a laboratory or both.

3. Immune Response activation – Creation of vaccine using cells that are modified genetically in order to produce cytokines to make the immune system stronger.

4. Universal cancer vaccine – Intended to cure or prevent any kind of cancer by effectively identifying all the cancer cells using antigens or tumor cells to stimulate the immune system.

5. Antigen vaccines – Unlike universal cancer vaccine, this is intended for specific type of cancer. This kind of vaccine is being injected to the cancerous body part.

With a lot of people suffering and dying from different kinds of cancer, the demand for alternative way to faster cure or even prevent cancer has been steadily increasing. In 1997, over 6 million people died because of cancer worldwide. Though there are a lot of ways to cure it, the best way to be spared from this devastating disease is early detection.