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EuroMed Foundation, an Arizona cancer center, says the development of cancer vaccines increases awareness of the immune system’s role in treatment.

Phoenix, Arizona (January 2015) — Physicians at EuroMed Foundation (, an Arizona cancer center that promotes holistic treatments, say vaccines that are making headlines lately highlight the immune system’s vital role in successfully treating cancer in a way that is in some ways at odds with the traditional reliance on chemotherapy.

“Our holistic approach to cancer treatment emphasizes the body’s natural immune system as its first line of defense,” says Dr. Helen Watt, a EuroMed physician with a background in integrative medicine and cancer treatments. “Cancer vaccines currently being developed focus on bolstering the immune system so that the cure isn’t worse than the disease.”

One of those vaccines was the subject of a recent clinical study involving patients with breast cancer. Results reported in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research found the vaccine to be a safe and effective treatment.

The vaccine works by ramping up the immune system’s response to breast cancer cells, enhancing the body’s natural defenses without the side effects of chemotherapy. That’s quite different from traditional chemotherapy, Dr. Watt says, which destroys both healthy and cancerous cells. That leaves patients weakened and susceptible to other diseases.

Dr. William Gillanders, vice chairman for research in the department of surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and one of the study’s co-authors, told CBS News that although the trial was small, “we can say confidently that the vaccine was safe.”

“We can also say with confidence that we were able to generate an immune response in almost all the patients who were vaccinated,” he says. “And there is preliminary evidence that the vaccine may have an impact on breast cancer progression. But that needs to be studied further to be confirmed.”

EuroMed’s alternative cancer treatment involves a multi-pronged approach that includes a low-dose chemotherapy treatment called insulin potentiation therapy (IPT). IPT works by using cancer cells’ reliance on sugar to target chemotherapy drugs. Insulin is carefully administered to patients, triggering a drop in their blood sugar levels. That, in turn, creates a situation in which glucose mixed with anti-cancer drugs are absorbed almost exclusively by the cancer cells.

Dr. Watt says, “Researchers’ growing interest in the immune system to treat cancer should help the general public understand the benefits of taking a holistic approach to cancer treatment.”