“A vaccine therapy has not been successful.”
From my oncologist, the NY Times article, and more different sites, I have heard or read the same message. Dr. Slamon at UCLA didn’t oppose this option, but told me that it may take a long time to see the response.
Uncertainty makes me nervous, and difficult to choose the right trial, yet the vaccine trial has had phase 1 part 1 study inviting 30 participants already. I decided to ask questions directly to the investigating doctor of the vaccine study in order to solve uncertainty.
The reply came right away. Using a war analogy the doctor explained that conventional chemo or radiation therapy is like dropping a bomb, but the vaccine is like training special soldiers how to find and fight the enemy. So the vaccine takes longer than chemo or radiation to respond.
Then she gave me the data:
Out of 10 participants, who received intermediate and high dosages of the vaccine, 5 had clinical responses, which means 50%. Out of 5, one had a complete response, which means cancer was gone 100%. Another one had a partial response with 72% reduction of the tumors, and the other three were stable. Those participants are not breast cancer patients but all of them have HER2 positive cancer. HER2 positive breast cancer participants have been recluted in the study since Mar. in this year, and so far there are only 5 participants. Their data is still immature but three are stable and the other two’s cancer has grown, which was expected based on the mice study, but the densities are getting lighter that can be the sign of cancer dying from the inside of tumors.
Usually if the response rate is 20%, the scientists consider it good, so 50% sounds really good to me, and although it is the early stage, the response rate of breast cancer participants looks like 100%.
CT scans are taken every 8 weeks to observe the response though, the earliest response was observed in the 8th week, and more were observed in the 16th week. This is also helpful.
It was no way possible to gain such fresh information 10 years ago. Now because of Internet it is possible. Being deeply thankful for the doctor who answered throughly and quickly, I forwarded the reply to the primary oncologist.