What are cancer vaccines for the reproductive system?
The vaccines that prevent healthy people from getting certain cancers caused by viruses are known as cancer vaccines. The vaccines which are for the reproductive system are known as cancer vaccines for the reproductive system. These vaccines are the same as those for chicken pox or flu which protect the human body from viruses. There are two types of vaccines that prevent cancer of the reproductive system and are approved by WHO:
1. HPV vaccine: This vaccination protects against the human papillomavirus, which stays in the body for a longer duration and causes some types of cancer. Cancer caused by the HPV virus is cervical, vaginal, volvar, anal cancer, and genital warts.
2. Hepatitis B vaccine: This waxing is protection against the hepatitis B virus which can cause liver cancer.
The above context was a precautionary measure before the development of cancer. But there are vaccines that are used in treating existing cancer which are called treatment vaccines or therapeutic vaccines. These vaccines are a type of cancer treatment which is called immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is done to boost the body’s immune system to fight cancer and doctors give vaccines that work in different ways, like, bringing patients back from cancer, destroying cancer cells, or stopping tumors from growing or spreading.
How does vaccination treatment work?
The body’s immune system has a memory that helps the body fight the antigens which were already being fought by them. Antigens are found on the surface of cells and body things that are harmful, and thus, the immune system attacks those antigens and gets
rid of them. So, cancer treatment vaccines boost the body’s immune system to destroy the antigens. Usually, cancer cells have some molecules that are known as cancer-specific antigens on the surface which the healthy cells do not have. When a vaccine is given to a person, those molecules act as antigens and tell the immune system to find and destroy cancer cells that have these molecules on their surface. And thus, the goal is achieved.
Challenges in using vaccine treatment:
1. Cancer cells are able to suppress the immune system and that is why they are able to grow in the body. To stop the growth of these cancer cells researchers are using them at events in vaccines in order to improve the body’s immune response.
2. The cancer cells are formed from a person’s own healthy cells and thus, might not look as harmful to the immune system. So, the immune system of the body may ignore the cell instead of finding and fighting them.
3. The tumors which are very large are not possible to destroy in 1 vaccination treatment, and in that case, there is a need for another.
4. people who are sick or older have a weak immune system and hence their bodies may not be able to produce strong immune responses even if they receive a vaccine. Also, some cancer treatments weaken a person’s immune system and limit the body’s response to the vaccine.
Amongst all other reproduction cancers, cervical cancer is 5th most common cancer in humans, and most common cancer in women worldwide, and also a cause of death in developing countries. The sexually transmitted human papillomavirus infection is a risk factor for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and invasive cervical cancer. Unlike other cancers, cervical cancer shoots during the productive period of a woman’s life, and the risk rises at the age of 30-34 years and peaks at 55-65 years.
HPV is a small non-envelope deoxyribonucleic acid virus and is classified according to DNA sequence. There are more than a hundred stereotypes of HPV out of which 15 to 20 are oncogenic. HPV infects basal epithelium and is grouped as cutaneous and mucosal types which result in cervical morphological lesions ranging from normal to the development of different stages of high-grade precancerous lesions and subsequent invasive cervical cancer.
The availability of bivalent and quadrivalent vaccines are not therapeutic, but prophylactic. There is no evidence that vaccination protects against disease, for which participants had positive results on polymerase chain reaction at baseline. The people already positive for vaccine HPV types before vaccination acquired protection against diseases caused by other vaccine types. Adding on to the same, there is an efficacy of 99- 100% against vaccine-type related genital warts, vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia, and vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia. Further, in the following five years of vaccination, it shows persistent protection and good response to boosted immunization. The HPV vaccine shows 95-99.5% efficacy for HPV-type disease.
The HPV vaccination is primarily for the prevention of carcinoma cervix. It has shown promising effects on cancer cells in the human body. Further, with advancements, the route of cost-effectiveness and efficiency on all other cancers related to HPV infections can be boosted.