Background: Our aim was to evaluate the serological response and safety of influenza vaccine in patients with breast cancer in Mexico.
Material/methods: Between October and December 2001, patients with breast cancer were vaccinated with a split virus vaccine. Hemagglutination inhibition assay titers were measured before vaccination and 4-6 weeks later. Titer ratios were used as the primary measure of response. When comparing rate of response according to treatment, stage, or other patient-related variables, individuals with post vaccination titers >/=1:40 for all 3 antigen strains were called respondents.
Results: We analyzed 146 patients who were vaccinated and had influenza antibodies measured before and after vaccination. Seventy-two (49.3%) had locally advanced breast cancer, 117 (80.1%) were receiving cancer treatment, 91 (62.3%) were on chemotherapy. Response to vaccine was 47.2%; we found an additional 25.3% of patients who responded to two of the serotypes. In patients receiving chemotherapy the response rate was lower (p=NS).
Conclusions: The results of the present study show that influenza vaccine is safe and well tolerated in patients with breast cancer, but we observed a lessening of the immune response among patients receiving chemotherapy. Influenza vaccination should be recommended in all patients with breast cancer, regardless of the anti-neoplastic treatment.