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What are Cancer Vaccines?

Vaccines are an effective method to prevent or eliminate diseases which are caused by bacteria or virus. Cancer cells appear similar to our natural cells which makes it difficult to identify for vaccines. Several kinds of research are conducted by many medical institutions to develop an efficient vaccine for cancer-related diseases. 

Currently, the Human papillomavirus vaccines (HPV) and Hepatitis B vaccine are majorly used to prevent viruses that cause cancer. 

How does Cancer Occur?

Cancer cells are invasive and can occur at any place in the body. Usually, the cells in the human body grow and eventually divide to develop new cells. Gradually, when these cells get damaged, they die and new cells replace them. 

When cancer develops in the body, the old cells don’t die and new cells start to develop rapidly. These cells grow, and divide, but don’t die which can cause tumors. The cancer cells can travel into the body through the blood and form new tumors.

Types of Cancer

Cancer diseases are categorized to identify the origin of cancer inside the boy. Here are some types of cancer diseases-

  • Leukemia- Occurs in bone marrow
  • Melanoma- Occurs in melanin cells
  • Sarcoma- occurs in Bone and Soft Tissue
  • Carcinoma- occurs in cells
  • Multiple Myeloma- Occurs in Plasma cells
  • Spinal Cord and Brain Tumours- Occurs in Spinal cord and brain
  • Lymphoma- Occurs in Lymphocytes

Treatments and Vaccines

Vaccines help to boost the immune system so that the body can naturally fight against the diseases. These vaccines are called ‘antigens’ which are injected before the person is infected by any virus or bacteria.

However, the process is complex to develop such vaccines to prevent or treat cancer-related diseases. Because cancer cells appear almost similar to normal cells and the tumor in every individual is different.  

So, more refined technology and treatment are necessary for effective treatment. Here are a few types of vaccines that are currently used to prevent and treat cancerous diseases.

1. Preventive vaccines

Many preventive vaccines help to prevent the infections that can cause cancer in the future. Neck and head cancer is caused by hepatitis B and the human papilloma virus (HPV). In the past few years, many vaccines are developed to prevent cancer caused by HPV and HBV.

Some vaccines are- Gardasil, Cervarix, HBC, HEPLISAV, Gardasil-9, 

2. Personalised vaccines

Personalized neoantigen vaccines are developed from own cells of cancer patients. It is used for treatment in such a way that immune cells automatically destroy the cancer cells. Currently, the phase II and Phase III trials of these vaccines are yet to complete and achieve the license.

3. Therapeutic vaccines

Doctors are now able to recognize the targets in the tumors and it is helpful to differentiate normal cells and cancer cells. These targets are produced by prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP).

Some vaccines are- Sipuleucel-T and Bacillus Calmette-Guerin or BCG.

Changes During Cancer Treatments

Cancer cells in the body also cause some significant changes in the human body. These are the following changes that can occur due to cancer treatments-

Skin- The skin may feel dry and itchy due to chemotherapy. Rashes and sunburn can also occur which is known as photosensitivity.  Your skin can feel rough and peeling, change in color, sores become painful, etc. 

Nails- person undergoing cancer treatments can have a nail infection, and the cuticles may get swollen and cracks may also occur. 

What are the side effects of cancer-effective vaccines?

An individual may experience side effects depending upon the type of vaccine. Side effects may occur according to the cancer type and health of the patient. Common side effects a patient can face from cancer vaccines are- back pain, fatigue, fever, headache, nausea, joint pain, neuralgia, and chills.

Several types of research are still going on to develop powerful vaccines to treat cancer-related diseases efficiently. However, even after rapid technological developments in medical science and cancer treatment, only the BCG vaccine has been developed.

Scientists are researching to develop effective personalized vaccines for cancer, and some have also shown positive results during the trials. However, it is not possible to develop a single or unified vaccine to treat all types of cancer-related diseases.

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