Clinical trial for breast cancer vaccine seeks patients

4:37 PM, Oct 4, 2013   |    comments
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(WZZM) - October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, a time to bring awareness to the disease and new ways to treat it.

Military researchers are working on a vaccine for breast cancer and they need patients for a new clinical trial testing whether it can prevent the recurrence of the disease.

The researchers have been working on the vaccine for the past decade. They began the work because the rate of breast cancer in female soldiers is 20% to 40% higher than among civilians.

That could be because women in the military get screened more regularly.

Regardless, the vaccine being studied has shown a lot of promise so far.

"From our early studies, we really observed, they cut the recurrence risk in half," said Lt. Col. David Van Echo, M.D. with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The vaccine works like most vaccines, delivering a small protein found in cancers so the immune system can learn to respond and kill cancer cells.

If it works, it could lead to a vaccine to prevent breast cancer.

The clinical trial for the vaccine is international. Here in the United States, hospitals and cancer centers in Washington State, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, Texas and North Carolina are participating.

Each site is recruiting and if you are interested in learning more, click here.

One other breast cancer related note, the FDA has approved Perjeta, the first drug to be used before surgical treatments of the disease.

It's used already to treat advanced breast cancer, but in trials, it also shrank early stage tumors.

The hope is the treatment could result in less invasive surgeries and improved survival rates.

Right now, more than 4,800 women are part of a confirmatory trial to provide more data on the long term outcomes of the drug's use.

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