A remarkable study published in the JAMA Dermatology describes the case of a 97-year-old woman suffering from squamous cell cancer being treated with wart vaccines. As a result, all the tumors were cleared.
When it comes to elderly patients, it can be hard to determine the best course of action. The attending doctor, Anna Nicols, had only three options, all of them risky, none of them pleasant: either prescribe radiation and force the patient to undergo a difficult treatment with lots of heavy medication; recommend amputation, a dangerous operation in these circumstances; or let the disease take its course and just try to alleviate the symptoms.
While at the Miami School of Medicine University, she had seen two experimental cases where the HPV vaccine was used with moderate success. Those patients exhibited fewer cancers in the months after, though cases can vary widely and it’s almost impossible to extrapolate outcomes.
Even though it was a very long shot, convinced by her patient’s strong will not to give up the fight, they went ahead with the procedure. Two standard intramuscular injections six weeks apart followed by four intra-tumoral shots over the course of the next eleven months.
Almost a year after the initial injection, the patient was tumor free. A follow-up done twelve months later showed that the recurrence rate was zero. It was astounding!
The vaccine showed a lot of potential as an antiviral anti-tumor agent, and while there’s still a long way before it can be prescribed as a general treatment, there is a lot of hope for future developments in this field.