PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It's a medical breakthrough that could literally save millions of live, and it could be coming to the United States in a few years.
"I'm very excited, I think that generally we're looking to treat patients with a treatment that is less toxic, that doesn't cause a lot of side effects, and work," said Dr. Santosh Rao.
Dr. Rao is an oncologist at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert. He says the lung cancer vaccine from Cuba called Cimavax, which has been shown to significantly increase life expectancy in lung cancer patients in that country, could soon offer new hope for people battling the deadly disease in the United States.
"Most of the studies have shown that it does something, and that it extends life. The question will always come up, is it better than some of the new therapies that we have that also help the immune system function better," said Rao.
Cimavax has been used as a treatment for people with lung cancer, but also as a vaccine for high-risk groups like smokers since 2011 to prevent cancer from developing in the first place.
The hope is that it could be a life-changing drug for patients in the United States, but it could be years before US drug trials are completed.
"I think that vaccines are a really exciting area of cancer treatment and they have experience with this vaccine. It's cheap and it seems to be effective for a lot of patients, so I do think that it has a lot of promise," said Rao.