[MOL] colon cancer vaccine [03342] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] colon cancer vaccine


Colon Cancer Vaccine Advances / Study shows promise during earlystages

    London - Colon cancer patients in the early stages of the disease
who received a vaccine after surgery more than doubled their chances of
remaining cancer-free for five years, a new study shows.
    In the study of 254 patients at the Netherlands' Vrije University,
scientists found that a custom-made vaccine created from a mixture of
the patients' own cancer cells and bacteria was effective for subjects
whose cancer had broken through the bowel wall but had not spreadfurther.
    The study results, published in this week's issue of The Lancet, a
British medical journal, could lead to the vaccine being approved for
experimental use within a year, according to Dr. Gabriel Feldman of the
American Cancer Society.
    "This is a substantial advance because it's going to change the
management of patients with [early stages] of the disease," said
Feldman, the cancer society's director of colon cancer. Until now, he
noted, nothing has proven effective in preventing a recurrence of colon
cancer after surgery except catching the disease early.
    Scientists have been studying cancer vaccines for some time. A
vaccine for bladder cancer is well-established, and an experimental
vaccine for prostate cancer looks promising.
    Traditionally, vaccines have been used to prevent people from
catching diseases by arming the immune system to fight off germs. In the
new approach, doctors give a vaccine to people who are already sick in
an effort to trigger the immune system to find and destroy cancer cells.
    In the Amsterdam study, which involved equal numbers of men and
women, 170 patients had early colon cancer, where the tumor had eroded
through the bowel wall but had not spread. In the other 84 patients, the
cancer had traveled to the lymph nodes. Half of each group was randomly
chosen to receive the vaccinations and half got placebo injections.
    Starting a month after surgery to remove the cancer, those patients
receiving the vaccine were given three weekly injections of the
neutralized cancer cells mixed with bacteria that boost the immunesystem.
    Six months later, they were given a booster shot of the cancer cells
alone and monitored for five years.
    The patients with the less advanced cancer had a 61 percent reduced
risk of recurrence with the vaccine, according to the researchers.
Cancer recurred in 10 of the 85 who had been vaccinated and in 23 of the
85 who had not been vaccinated, they said.
    But the injections seemed to have little effect in cases where the
cancer had spread to the lymph nodes, according to one of the study's
authors, Dr. Fons van Deneertwegh.
    Side effects of the vaccine included fever and flu-like symptoms
during the first few days and leg ulcers that lingered for about twomonths.
    An estimated 780,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with colon
cancer every year.

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