The development of the HPV and Hepatitis C vaccines are tremendous accomplishments that have saved countless lives. With all the talk of vaccinations recently, we decided to sit down with the Canadian Cancer Society’s (CCS) Vice President, Research, Dr Judy Bray, to ask her about vaccinating against cancer.
Q. A COVID-19 vaccine was developed so quickly. Is it possible to develop something similar for cancer?
A. Infectious diseases are caused by external, foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses. We have vaccines for many of these diseases, including the latest ones for COVID-19, and they do a very good job of preventing people from getting sick. But cancer is different.
Q. Why is cancer different?
A. Most cancers are not caused by a foreign bug. It’s not something from the outside – it’s something that goes wrong with our own cells. It’s challenging to make a vaccine to prevent you from getting cancer because there are over 100 types. And in one little tumour you have all types of cancer cells that look different.
Q. But there are some fantastic vaccines for certain cancers…
A. Yes – we’ve had some great success against some cancers that are caused by a virus. The HPV vaccine protects against cervical and several other cancers, and the Hepatitis C vaccine protects against liver cancer. The development of the HPV and Hepatitis C vaccines are tremendous accomplishments that have saved countless lives.
Q. Can research in one area ever have an impact in another area?
A. Absolutely! In fact, one of the reasons the COVID-19 vaccines were developed so quickly is that they’re mRNA vaccines, which have been researched for many years, including in cancer research – so the scientific community had a huge head start when COVID-19 emerged. It shows what is possible when scientists and researchers put their collective efforts toward a global problem, share their expertise, and work in partnership across sectors. This is what we strive to do every day in cancer research.
I hope you found this informative.
@Lacey_Moderator Thanks for posting.
What I find most annoying is when people, the same people that know my Cancer story, say “They have a cure for Cancer but it's a money maker”. Do you really think that a person who's been affected by Cancer wants to hear that. I've restrained myself when I hear this being said. GRRR!!
My Oncologist told me that “it was just bad luck”, I was hoping that there was nothing I could have done to prevent this disease and from reading this post, it kinda reassures me that I was correct.
THERE WAS NOTHING YOU COULD DO!!!!! I've had the monkey comment too, and its so ignorant I fall speechless….