Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Pancreatic Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Vaccine for Pancreatic Cancer Studied

Experimental Vaccine Appears to Extend Lives; So Do Chemo and Radiation

Tested in 60 Patients

For the new study, researchers used the vaccine in addition to conventional surgery and postoperative chemotherapy and radiation in 60 people with pancreatic cancer.

The vaccine was injected eight to 10 weeks after surgery, with four boosters given in the nine monthsafter chemotherapy and radiation.

Over the next two years, 24% of the participants died.

For comparison, 58% of people who get surgery alone (without the vaccine or chemotherapy and radiation) would be expected to die over the two-year period, Laheru says.

Few Side Effects

Because the vaccine targets only tumor cells, healthy cells are generally left unscathed.

That means many unpleasant side effects, such as hair loss and nausea, associated with traditional cancer medications are avoided, Laheru says.

In fact, side effects were limited to itching, redness, and swelling at the injection site and typically dissipated within 10 days.

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute and Cell Genesys, Inc., which makes the vaccine under the name GVAX.

Laheru cautions that further study is needed before the vaccine is ready for prime time.

If it does pan out, he adds, it will most likely be used as a complement to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Chemo and Radiation Advised

In the U.S., most pancreatic cancer victims who undergo surgery are given chemotherapy and radiation afterward -- and another study presented at the meeting suggests this approach is advisable.

The study included 454 people who underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer; about half also got postoperative chemotherapy and radiation.

Five years later, 28% of those who got the triple punch were still alive, compared with only 17% who got surgery alone.

“After surgery to remove pancreatic cancer, there is a survival benefit to adding radiation therapy and chemotherapy,” researcher Michele M. Corsini, MD, of the Mayo Clinic tells WebMD.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

human pancreas
Do you know what they are?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
Integrative Medicine Cancer Quiz
Patrick Swayzes Widow Healing From Loss
Pets Improve Your Health
Resolved To Quit Smoking