Six years ago, Bert Linder underwent radiation treatment for his prostate cancer.
For a while, the cancer was in remission. But slowly, it started to come back. He couldn't have surgery or more radiation, so Bert opted to try a new vaccine against prostate cancer being tested by Sloan-Kettering's Dr. Philip Livingston.
"We're used to the idea of vaccines preventing a disease. That's not our intention at least initially. Our intention is to prevent it returning after the surgeon has removed it once," said Dr. Livingston.
The problem in developing a vaccine against cancer has been the difficulty in tricking the immune system to attack its own cells, even if they are cancerous.
The vaccine isn't strong enough to kill established tumors, but in patients whose cancer is beginning to redevelop, it has shown promise in keeping the disease in check.
"We know what dose to use and we know that it's safe and we know that patients make an immune response against this vaccine," says Livingston.
"I have no symptoms whatsoever, no pain, no discomfort and if that's due to the vaccine, god bless us all," says Linder.
The technology of cancer vaccines is still in its infancy and researchers have a long way to go to make them as effective as they would like, but it's believed, in the overall strategy to treat cancer, they will play a vital role.