Much progress has been made in Breast Cancer awareness. However, being aware of cancer neither prevents nor cures cancer. If I told you that I am aware my kitchen window is broken, would you cheer? Would my telling you this fix my window? Would it prevent another ball from coming in the window? No. I think the race for the cure is over. I ask you, who would benefit from finding the cure? Women, not drug companies right? But it is becoming painfully obvious that money is not being spent on a cure, but rather on drugs and talking about cancer. We now need to spend money and energy on the prevention of cancer as well as exploring new and less toxic treatments for cancer. What’s new and worthy of research and trials? Read on.
Scientists are aware of a virus that initiates cancer in mice. Could this virus be responsible for cancer in humans? Maybe; scientists estimate that approximately 40% of all human breast cancers may be related to a virus. This virus, called the human mammary tumor virus, is nearly identical to a virus found in mice. (mouse-mammary tumor virus) that causes breast cancer in 95% of the animals it infects. If it can be proven that this virus causes human breast cancer, a vaccine could be developed to protect against it, and new therapies could be developed that could treat those women whose breast cancers are caused by it. It’s time we stop racing and start researching. To learn more, please see this documentary film, It’s Time to Answer the Question, nominated Best Film of the Year 2010 by Rethink Breast Cancer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4SCKJ1l27o.
There are at least two promising vaccines in the works. One, which is being conducted by Dr Brian J. Czerniecki, MD, PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, is already being tested in women with breast cancer—and is showing remarkable but under-reported results. He is currently the principle investigator for a vaccine trial for patients with DCIS. What is unique about Dr. Czerniecki’s trial is that it examines the efficacy and safety of vaccines in a much earlier setting, even before invasive cancer is present. The results from this trial are particularly exciting as they open the door for the use of vaccines as cancer prevention tools as opposed to treatment of late stage disease. To read more about Dr. Czerniecki’s vaccine, please visit:
Another exciting study, spearheaded by Professor Vincent Tuohy of the Cleveland Clinic, has the potential to produce the first preventive breast cancer vaccine that also has therapeutic potential for women with Stage IV breast cancer. In May 2010, Professor announced that he had successfully developed the first preventive breast cancer vaccine, capable of preventing breast cancer in 100% of mice and also capable of slowing the growth of tumors that had already formed. Tuohy, a recipient of prior R01 grants from the NIH (the most prestigious funding available), is ready to begin Phase I trials (safety testing) in women. If Tuohy’s vaccine is safe and effective, it could eliminate 95% of breast cancer in this country, and possibly become an important therapeutic treatment for the 3 million breast cancer survivors now living in the USA. However, for this vaccine to become a reality, Professor Tuohy must receive the necessary funding. For more information on Tuohy’s paper, please see this link: http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v16/n7/abs/nm.2161.html
To view a short video of Tuohy’s work, please see this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QffAJmyALb0
Exciting news? Yes, however, here is the big question. I talk a lot about cancer, cancer prevention and treatments. I go to as many conferences as I can. Why is it that there is so little talk of viruses and vaccines for breast cancer? I have Dr Kathleen Ruddy and Janet Hanson to thank for the information included it this blog. I am grateful to have learned of the new possibilities. However, for these and other cancer vaccines to begin to save lives, we need to stop talking and start funding the right studies. Now the challenge is not to keep aimlessly racing…it’s time to put some money in the hands of these skilled researchers and to let them test their theories.
Dr Ruddy sent me a blog she wrote last night, I love her idea of changing National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to National Breast Cancer Action Month. It’s about time we focused on action instead of pretty pink ribbons. To read her blog, please view: http://breastcancerbydrruddy.com/?p=2894
Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. and a breast cancer survivor. She empowers women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers. She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.
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