Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

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Vaccines & Cancer


Do vaccines cause cancer?

There is no clear connection between any canine vaccine and any specific form of cancer.  The 2007 ASHGI cancer survey found no correlation between vaccines and any of the cancers reported.

 Are there vaccines that prevent cancer?

Cancer vaccines function differently than the more traditional vaccines we give our dogs and ourselves for infectious diseases.  Traditional vaccines are a preventative administered to healthy individuals.  They prompt the immune system to recognize the invading “bug” and go into attack mode if the vaccinated individual gets infected.  The vaccine makes sure bug gets killed off before it can do substantial damage.  The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that prevents cervical cancer is actually a traditional vaccine targeting the HPV virus which causes the cancer.  Vaccines that actually target the cancer are given to patients already diagnosed.  They increase the immune system’s ability to identify and remove cancer cells.  They aren’t a preventative, like more traditional vaccines, but serve as a “clean-up service,” that destroys any remaining cancer cells in cancer patients to minimize the risk of the disease returning in the future.  Cancer vaccines are a relatively new development in cancer treatment.  There is one currently (2013) available for canine melanoma and others are being researched.