Can Vaccines

Cancer Vaccines – Help the Immune System Identify and Destroy Cancer Cells

When growing up, most people receive vaccines, such as chickenpox and measles, which use weakened or dead germs to trigger the body’s immune response. The same is true for cancer vaccines. Both are immunotherapy, but their purposes are different. We will discuss the types, functions, and potential side effects of cancer vaccines in this article.

What are cancer vaccines?

Cancer Research UK pointed out that vaccines can be said to be harmless versions of “diseases” that can help protect people from being infected or attacked by diseases. In other words, vaccines will not cause diseases. However, when it comes to cancer vaccines, research in this field is still in its early stages, and most available cancer vaccines are still in clinical trials.

General Vaccines vs Cancer Vaccines

Our immune system is a protective web of organs, cells and proteins designed to keep the body safe from “invaders”. Not only that, but the immune system also fights cells in the body that have changed due to disease, such as cancer. White blood cells are responsible for finding these pathogens and destroying them. They then produce antibodies, which are proteins in the body that help fight infection. Generally speaking, if the human body is invaded by “foreigners”, the immune system automatically eliminates them, such as infection. The general vaccine is to help the immune system recognize these “foreigners” that may invade the human body in advance to avoid infection. . Once a germ invades the body, the immune system can quickly identify the germ, and with the presence of antibodies against the germ in the body, the infection can be eliminated quickly. However, tumors are cell lesions already existing in the human body, and tumor-associated antigens (referred to as TAAs) are also present in normal cells. This causes the immune system to treat the tumor as a normal cell, rather than a “foreigner” that needs to be removed. At this time, a cancer vaccine is needed. Some cancer vaccines include cancer cells, parts of cells or pure antigens, which are used to induce the immune system to lock the TAAs of tumors and attack cancer cells without interfering with normal cells. Some use the patient’s white blood cells, then expose it to adjuvant drugs such as pure antigens of cancer cells and activating molecules. When it is injected into the patient’s body, the treated white blood cells will also attack the cancer, thereby helping treat cancer or reduce the chance of cancer recurrence.
cancer vaccines

What are the types of cancer vaccines?

1. Preventive cancer vaccines

This type of cancer vaccine is only suitable for cancers caused by viral infections, including viruses such as HPV (Human Papillomavirus), hepatitis B and C. Note that preventive cancer vaccines target viruses, not cancer cells, and are therefore limited to preventing some cancers.

2. Therapeutic cancer vaccines

Unlike preventive cancer vaccines, therapeutic cancer vaccines are suitable for cancer patients because they strengthen the body’s natural defenses and allow the immune system to attack cancer cells. Scientists are still working hard to study different cancer vaccines and their therapeutic effects. The most common types of therapeutic cancer vaccines are listed below.
  1. Antigen-specific vaccine: TAAs of cancer cells of designated cancers are used for experimental cultivation, and then injected into the patient’s body after the presentation of new cancer antigens, thereby triggering the immune system to concentrate on attacking cancer cells.
  2. Whole-cell cancer vaccines: Not just cancer-specific antigens, but whole cancer cells are experimentally cultivated to make them easier to be recognized by the immune system, and injected into the patient’s body with immune active compounds, thereby triggering a strong immune response.
  3. Dendritic cell cancer vaccine: Collect patient’s dendritic cells, which are a kind of immune cells in the body, and then experiment with cancer cells and activated proteins to trigger a strong immune response. Currently, Sipuleucel-T is the only dendritic cell cancer vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Each patient is customized.
  4. DNA vaccine for cancer: Part of the DNA of cancer cells is collected and injected into the patient’s body, which can enhance the immune response and anti-cancer ability.
  5. Anti-idiotypic cancer antibodies: Stimulates the body to make antibodies that fight cancer cells.

3. Personalized neoantigen vaccines

Because of the unique shape on the surface of mutated tumor cells, called neoantigens, other healthy cells don’t have it. This allows the body’s immune response to be precisely targeted at the tumor without interfering with other normal cells and causing side effects. This cancer vaccine is still in the evaluation stage, including clinical trials for different cancers, and considerations for combination with other cancer treatments.

Cancer vaccine side effects

The National Cancer Institute says cancer vaccine side effects can happen and vary from person to person, and health care providers can’t say with certainty if side effects will occur, when they will occur, or how severe they will be . However, potential side effects of cancer vaccines may be related to a faulty immune response, meaning that the immune system attacks normal cells that have the same proteins as cancer cells. If you have any doubts about the administration of cancer vaccines, it is recommended to consult a professional physician. Basically, there are five levels of considerations for the side effects of cancer vaccines:
  1. Cancer Vaccine Types and Dosages
  2. The target of cancer vaccines
  3. Cancer Types and Stages
  4. Cancer site
  5. Patient’s health status before treatment
Common side effects of cancer vaccines include flu-like symptoms and severe allergic reactions. Things to watch out for include:
  1. Fever, chills
  2. Headache, dizziness
  3. Breathing problems
  4. Nausea or vomiting
  5. Anorexia
  6. Muscle or joint pain, neuralgia, back pain
  7. Fatigue, weakness, discomfort
  8. Hypotension, hypertension

Related Topic

Understanding Cancer


Cancer – NHS Cancer – NIH

Helpful Organization

Macmillan Cancer Support Cancer Research UK National Cancer Institute Institute of Cancer Research American Cancer Society [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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