Breast Cancer Vaccine Takes a Big, Encouraging Step Closer to Reality

Breast cancer duckExciting news on the women's health front this week: a vaccine that shows promise in halting the progress of breast and ovarian cancer and increasing the survival rates of women with advanced cases of the disease.


Although the study exploring the effects of the PANVAC vaccine, conducted at the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, was small, the effects were dramatic. Twenty-six women were treated (all of them with breast or ovarian cancer that had already spread to other organs) with the vaccine. In four women, the disease was brought to a halt. One woman experienced what sounds like a miracle: Her cancer just totally disappeared.


What's more, side effects were extremely mild: The women were given the vaccine via monthly shots. Their complaints were no worse than a minor reaction at the site of the injections, which, to me, doesn't sound like anything more dramatic than you might get from a flu shot!

Researchers are hopeful that, if administered earlier and on women with less advanced forms of cancer, the vaccine could prove even more effective.

Clearly, in an area that so many of us women have been thirsting for progress, the results of this study comes as more than welcome news. But of course, we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves. Further, larger-scale studies will be needed to verify the results. And it can take a long time for a treatment to make the journey from the clinical-trial phase to widespread use.

Still, solutions to women's most pressing health problems like breast and ovarian cancer will be found one step at a time. And this step sure sounds like a promising one that -- one hopes -- is headed in the right direction.

Are you excited about the prospect of a breast and ovarian cancer vaccine?


Image via jdsmith1021/Flickr

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