Houston doctor, patient lead the way in cancer vaccine study

TOMBALL, Texas – This Movember, as the country raises awareness for men's health issues, one Tomball man is part of a national trial that could reduce the recurrence of prostate cancer.

About 20 percent to 30 percent of prostate cancer comes back in patients after five years. A Houston doctor and one of his patients are leading the way on a study for a vaccine that could not only help kill the cancer but cut down that risk for relapse.

Seventy-four-year-old  Brian McDonald's cancer is localized and he's not a candidate for surgery so he gets radiation, all factors that make him an ideal candidate for a clinical trial vaccine.

"If I can do anything to eradicate this disease I'm going to do it because it doesn't control me, I control it," McDonald said.

One of the lead investigators in the trial is his urologist, Dr. Steven Sukin of Texas Oncology.

"They're still going to get regular radiation that they would have had that's been used for many years but here they get a vaccine therapy," Sukin said.

In theory, Sukin said, that will create an immune response.

While it's still being studied, patients don't know whether they have a placebo but could feel flu-like symptoms if they're getting the real injection. McDonald believes he is feeling the symptoms and therefore does not think he has the placebo. No early results for McDonald or any patients in the study are available.

McDonald is now just trying to use his experience as a way to educate his three adult sons.

"These things are invisible and come and get you. So, do your exams, do what you're supposed to do and quit your whining," he said.

This is phase three of the clinical trial, Skin said, and if it proves to be effective, then the vaccine could be FDA approved for everyone nationwide.

For details on the the trial, or learn how to participate visit the Texas Oncology website or call Dr. Steven Sukin's office at 281-351-5174.