Prevention is better than cure: the case for clinical trials of therapeutic cancer vaccines in the prophylactic setting

Mol Interv. 2010 Aug;10(4):197-203. doi: 10.1124/mi.10.4.2.


Tumor cells frequently express antigens that allow them to be specifically targeted and destroyed by the immune system. Many tumor immunotherapy clinical trials have been conducted, directed at several types of cancer using myriad antigens and multiple immunization strategies. Despite this, only one therapeutic cancer vaccine, sipuleucel-T, has been approved. A groundbreaking study by Jaini et al. recently demonstrated that prophylactic immunization against a breast cancer associated antigen can prevent tumor development, and is far more effective than therapeutic vaccination. This study highlights the urgent need to rethink the clinical testing of tumor immunotherapies; it is time to consider clinical trials of cancer vaccines in the prophylactic setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Active / methods*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cancer Vaccines