Viruses cause over 20% of cancer cases worldwide — and it should be celebrated that we have vaccines that can prevent some of those cancers. Considering the fear that many people have of cancer, getting these vaccines should be a high priority.
Part of the reason that these cancer vaccines are not a high priority is probably that cancer may not appear until long after the viral infection. If cancer appeared soon after the virus attacks, the cause and effect would be very clear, probably making the vaccine a much higher priority.
This article is going to focus on preventative cancer vaccines. There are cancer vaccines that are being developed as treatments for cancer — for example, there is a new mRNA vaccine that may be useful in treating colorectal cancer.
These “cancer vaccines” train the immune system, much like preventative vaccines, to attack existent cancer but they cannot prevent it. Furthermore, these types of vaccines are individually designed for each patient — in essence, unique antigens on the cancer cell surface are isolated and used to induce the immune system to attack the cancer cells. It’s a therapeutic technique that will still be used in conjunction with surgery and other adjuvant therapies like chemotherapy.
I might discuss this type of “cancer vaccines” more in the future as they become more prevalent, but for this article, I am going to be discussing preventative cancer vaccines.Continue reading “Cancer vaccines — they exist and you should get them”