Reporting Kate Merrill
BOSTON (CBS) – Researchers are working on a vaccine of sorts that could keep breast cancer cells from coming back. Right now clinical trials are underway in the Boston area.
“You cross your fingers every time you go for a screening mammography and you hope that it will be normal,” says a 55-year-old mother of three. “You hold your breath. But this year it wasn’t.”
It was a stunning diagnosis for the New Hampshire mom. She says, “When you receive a diagnosis of breast cancer it’s a wake-up call to really examine your own personal life style.”
After surgery, chemo and radiation, she’s now in the “test kitchen” at the Lahey Clinic, getting an experimental vaccine designed to seek and destroy cancer cells.
“The vaccine works as an immune stimulant and is given as a series of injections in the hopes of boosting an immune response that will then target the cancer cells,” says Dr. Corrine Zarwan who is leading the clinical trial.
She says, “Patients will receive this injection on a monthly basis after they’ve completed their standard treatment for their breast cancer, and then a series of booster injections to try and keep the immunity going after.”
And Dr. Zarwan is looking for more patients.
“Studies like this are important to see if we can advance the field,” she says. “To see if there are more treatments that can add potential benefit to these patients.”
And that’s something the New Hampshire mom is hopeful about the future. She says, “There’s a potential for me to not develop re-occurrence of breast cancer.”
So how do you know if you’re eligible for the vaccine? For starters you have to have at least stage II breast cancer and recently completed chemotherapy.
If you would like to learn more about the clinical trials visit ClinicalTrials.gov.