Is It Still Necessary To Get Vaccinated If I Have Already Been Treated For Cancer?

Cancer vaccines have been around for over a century. Different types of this vaccine, like the throat and the; cervical cancer prevention vaccine,;work in different ways and target different forms of cancer. And like all other vaccines, some of these vaccines also play a vital role in preventing the occurrence of certain types of cancer.;

But what if you have already received cancer treatment? Do you still need to get vaccinated?;

A cancer vaccine considerably reduces your chances of getting certain types of cancer. However, it does not eliminate it. Also, getting treated for cancer does not mean you will be immune to this or other types of cancer from then onwards. The cancer might come back or one may develop a different form of cancer in the future.

So to understand the answer to— "Is it still necessary to get vaccinated if I have already been treated for cancer," there are certain things you need to understand.;

This article discusses these important points and skims through the various factors that determine whether or not you should get revaccinated. Read on to know more about the same.;

Is It Still Necessary To Get Vaccinated If I Have Already Been Treated For Cancer?

The answer to your question is conditional.;You may or may not need to get revaccinated after cancer treatment.;

Cancer vaccines have the same principle of action as all other vaccines. They use either weakened pathogens, fragments of the pathogens, or a protein or other compound produced by the pathogen. This is then introduced into your body.;

A pathogen is a disease-causing agent, which could be bacteria, viruses, or other organisms. When your body encounters the pathogen particles from vaccines, it recognizes it as a foreign agent and signals your immune system to remove it. The immune system is then activated, producing specific antibodies to fight and eliminate the pathogen particles.;

This immune action leaves a memory in your body. And when the actual pathogen attacks your body, your immune system recognizes it and responds quickly to eliminate the threat.;

However,;when you have received cancer treatment, your body is very likely weak. Some cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, considerably weaken your immune system. And if you receive certain vaccines in this state, you may fall ill.;

Why You Might Need Revaccination After Cancer Treatment

In the case of most illnesses, they are caused by a certain group of bacteria, viruses, or other disease-causing agents, generally called pathogens. Hence, getting vaccinated for those diseases reduces your chances of having that illness to almost nil.;

However, that is not the case with cancer. Some forms of cancer are induced and/or triggered by pathogens. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common cause of cervical and other forms of cancer. The hepatitis B virus is often known to cause liver cancer and cancer of the lymphatic system, called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Even some bacteria are on the list.;Helicobacter pylori, for instance, is a bacterium known to play a significant role in causing gastric cancer.;

With that said, cancer is not always caused by these pathogens. In most cases, this disease is triggered by radiation, genetic factors, chronic infection and/or inflammation, or long-term exposure to certain chemicals and environmental conditions. These cancer-inducing factors are called carcinogens.;

Cancer vaccines help in preventing this disease caused by the pathogens like the viruses and bacteria mentioned above. The HPV vaccine, a;cervical cancer prevention vaccine, is one such instance. However, they cannot;prevent cancer from developing through other means like radiation and other non-biological carcinogens.;

It is fairly common for an individual to have more than one type of cancer in their lifetime. Also, the return of the cancer that had already been treated is also a common occurrence.;

Therefore, it is good to shield yourself from this disease with the help of vaccines if you can.;

But which vaccines can you still get after going through cancer treatment? Will the vaccines be effective? How much protection will these vaccines infer? These factors help oncologists decide whether or not to suggest you get revaccinated. The following section discusses these factors in more detail.;

Should You Get Revaccinated After Cancer Treatment? Know The Factors That Determine This

We discussed the working and efficacy of cancer vaccines in the previous sections. In this section, we will discuss the factors that help answer the question— "Is it still necessary to get vaccinated if I have already been treated for cancer?"

1. The type of cancer treatment you received

Some forms of cancer treatment, like chemotherapy, affect your immune system. Vaccines work on the principle of the memory of the immune system. This means that after getting the vaccine, if a similar pathogen attacks your body, the immune system takes immediate and strong action to eliminate it.;

However, if the cancer treatment interferes with that memory, the effect of the vaccine might be erased.;It usually happens if you receive myeloablative chemotherapy. This treatment removes the bone marrow to carry out transplants of the bone marrow or stem cells.;

Therefore, in this case, you would need to get revaccinated once your body is strong enough.;

2. The type of vaccine

Vaccines are of different types. Some of them use:

  • alive but weakened pathogens (live attenuated vaccines)
  • killed or inactivated pathogens (inactivated vaccines)
  • toxins (toxic compounds) produced by the pathogens (toxoids);
  • fragments, like proteins, of the pathogens (subunit/recombinant/conjugate vaccines);
  • harmless viral particles (viral vector vaccines);

The live attenuated vaccines are often advised against if you have recently received cancer treatment. This is because your immune system is still very weak, and even weakened pathogens can cause an illness.;

However, other types of vaccines might be safe to administer.;Most cancer vaccines, like the;cervical cancer prevention vaccine, use fragments of the pathogen. Hence, they are usually safe to administer.;

3. Will the vaccine still be effective?;

This is a major factor in answering the question, "Is it still necessary to get vaccinated if I have already been treated for cancer?"

After receiving strong treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and others, some vaccines might not be as effective. For instance,;the HPV vaccine (a;cervical cancer prevention vaccine) is not as effective if you take it after you have been infected with the Human Papillomavirus.;

4. Your overall health status

Your overall health status and age help determine whether revaccination would be safe for you.;If your immune system is still weak, getting vaccinated might pose many risks.;

The Outlook

As discussed above, whether or not you should get revaccinated after receiving cancer treatment depends on many factors. The answer to this would also vary for different individuals.;

It is best to discuss the topic with your oncologist. Ask them, "Is it still necessary to get vaccinated if I have already been treated for cancer?" Being closely familiar with your case and health status, they would give you a clear and definite answer.;

After receiving cancer treatment and being pronounced cancer-free, put your main focus on maintaining your good health. Once your body is strong enough, your oncologist might suggest any revaccinations that might be necessary.;

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