Tell me about vaccines that are supposed to prevent recurrence of ovarian cancer. Do they work?
Answer From Timothy J. Moynihan, M.D.
Doctors don't know yet whether the vaccines being developed will work. Research continues in the development of a number of vaccines designed to prevent the recurrence of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer vaccines are available only in clinical trials.
Ovarian cancer vaccines are a type of immunotherapy, which is treatment that harnesses the body's germ-fighting immune system to attack cancer cells. Researchers hope to use ovarian vaccines to train the immune system cells to detect and attack any cancer cells that reappear after initial treatment has been completed.
Surgery followed by chemotherapy remains the standard primary treatment for ovarian cancer. Researchers also are studying how cancer vaccines are best used in combination with chemotherapy and other treatments, including other immunotherapies.
Although research has shown that ovarian cancer vaccines may hold promise, these studies have involved only small numbers of participants. More and larger studies are needed to further evaluate the potential role that vaccines may play in preventing recurrent ovarian cancer.
If you're interested in participating in a clinical trial studying ovarian cancer vaccines, discuss it with your doctor. Your doctor can help you evaluate the options and determine whether a clinical trial is appropriate for your specific situation.
March 19, 2020
- Odunsi K. Immunotherapy in ovarian cancer. Annals of Oncology. 2017;28(suppl 8):viii1.
- Krishnan V, et al. Immunotherapy in ovarian cancer. Current Problems in Cancer. 2017;41:48.
- Cancer vaccines. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/vaccines-fact-sheet. Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.