An experimental vaccine for ovarian cancer appears to boost the body's anti-tumor defences and could be a useful supplementary therapy for patients with this deadly malignancy, a study released Monday said.
The most deadly reproductive cancer, ovarian cancer is often referred to as a silent killer because it is so hard to detect.
While most women with the malignancy respond to chemotherapy, 70 percent of patients die of recurrent disease within five years of diagnosis, according to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This experimental vaccine is not intended to prevent the cancer, but rather to extend a patient's period of remission by boosting their own immune system response to the tumor.
In a preliminary trial, 18 women with epilethial ovarian cancer who were given the vaccine went 19 months on average without a recurrence of their tumours.
The vaccine also induced patients' antibody and T-cell responses -- both of them measures of immune response.
These induced cells were present in the women's blood six months, and in some cases 12 months, after immunization -- suggesting that the series of shots the women received had a long-lasting effect.
Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, said the results were encouraging and that this or a similar vaccine warranted further study as the basis for immunotherapy for ovarian cancer.