Renowned oncologist Anuradha Hooda on Sunday said that the first vaccine to treat prostrate cancer Provenge, is a major scientific breakthrough in fighting the disease.
The Government of United States approved this vaccine, which was developed by the US-based Dendreaon Corporation, at the end of April 2010.
"This is a major breakthrough in cancer treatment. This concept has been looked at for many years but we haven't been able to be successful in coming out with any cancer vaccine treatment. There have been a lot of trials done in Melanoma also but before they are able to come out in clinical use the drugs have fizzled out. This is the first of its kind and hopefully many more will follow. This is a completely new concept," said Anuradha Hooda, Chief Medical Oncologist and Hematology at the Max Super Speciality Hospital.
Unlike traditional vaccines that prevent a disease, Provenge treats prostate cancer by stimulating the body's own immune system to attack malignant cells.
It is produced by taking cells from a patient's tumor and incorporating them into a vaccine that is injected back into the patient.
Dendreon is the first company to show a cancer vaccine can extend patient survival. In a late-stage study of 512 patients, men given Provenge lived an average of 4.1 months longer than the other patients.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research that tracks cancers in India, there are 50 lakh cancer cases at any given time, with 8 lakh new cancers and 5.5 lakh cancer deaths occurring each year.
Hooda believes that the disease can be tackled if the patients are aware enough about their symptoms and cure.
"The major thing that needs to be done with is patient education and awareness because that is where the fight really starts. The patients need to be aware of not only the symptoms that may come about from having a disease like that but also be pro active in going for screening programs for certain kinds of cancers for which we do have well established screening programs," Hooda said.