Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today for both men and women. But researchers have some exciting news; there is an experimental new therapy that you should know about.

CBS news reports on the new therapy.

A woman told CBS news that the experimental cancer therapy helped extend her life by a whopping nine years.

Duke University’s cancer research team has the scoop on the new therapy. Mrs. Hillburn told CBS about her experience with the therapy saying, “I was actually told I would have two or three months to live.” But then she started the experimental vaccine therapy at Duke and it changed her life.

How does it work?

To get the vaccine ready, a patient's white blood cells are extracted and exposed to protein from a virus called CMV. This virus is found in glioblastoma cells but not in healthy brain tissue. The researchers liken it to a bloodhound given a scent; the body's immune cells attack CMV and destroy the cancer cells quickly.

The results of the vaccine have been favorable for many patients. The researchers report that six patients received CMV vaccine alone and survived an average of 18.5 months. They also said that six other patients got a tetanus shot first, out of these three survived an average of 22 months, two lived for about five and six years, and Mrs. Hillburn is still healthy after nine years.

Hillburn told CBS she still gets the cancer vaccine monthly and in November she actually celebrated her 100th treatment. Also, she had one grandson before she got sick but has had the pleasure of living to see five more grandchildren being born.

Dr. John Sampson, a professor of surgery at Duke, commented on the study. He said,

“Because our immune systems are particularly adept at attacking viruses we felt it would be a great opportunity for us to attack the tumor by attacking the virus. The idea was that we could create an allergic reaction and that allergic reaction would put the immune system on warning that it was to react to what we were going to give it next.”

Hillburn also told CBS she expects to live at least another ten years. This treatment is considered so ground breaking due to the difficult nature of glioblastoma, it is one of the most difficult cancers to treat.

Are researchers making strides on treatment options for all types of cancers?

Reuters reports on the general progress done in helping people survive invasive cancers.

“Two out of three people in the United States with cancer that has spread to nearby tissue live at least five years after they are diagnosed. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked patients diagnosed from 2003 to 2010 and found that the overall five-year survival rate for invasive cancer was 65 percent,” according to Reuters.

New programs want to reach a rate of more than 70% and experts are saying this is entirely possible as the rates of people who are surviving invasive cancers longer has been steadily increasing. Researchers said the survival rates also depend on a person’s race and particularly their age, with those who are younger having better survival rates.



Gerry Oginski
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