Is it true that coronavirus boosters cause cancer recurrence in some patients?
Dear doctor. ROACH: I’m looking for your opinion regarding the new coronavirus booster.
I’m not opposed to vaccinations, I’ve had the first two doses and one booster.
About 18 months ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and have since had my prostate removed. My current PSA readings are undetectable, which I’m grateful for. I was also diagnosed with skin cancer 12 months ago (with multiple basil spots). The biopsy results showed that they were all successfully removed and were within positive margins, for which I am also grateful.
I would love to get a new coronavirus booster shot for obvious reasons, but I’ve read that boosters lead to cancer recurrence (including prostate cancer and melanoma) in some patients. Obviously I don’t want either of them back, but I also don’t want to get coronavirus.
Can you help with my dilemma and provide a recommendation? –T
Answer: I have also read people making this claim, but it is not supported by evidence. Both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society agree that there is no evidence, and no scientific reason, to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines, whether first or additional, increase the risk of cancer development. (By the way, if you see, as I did, the term “turbinoma,” you can safely ignore that claim, because it’s not a real entity. This is fear-mongering.)
A Covid vaccine, whether an mRNA or a traditional vaccine like Novavax, is a very limited exposure to an important protein in our immune system to help “teach” the immune system to recognize a Covid infection, should it occur. The vaccine provides very good protection against infection for a few months and excellent protection against severe infection (including hospitalization and death) for about a year. It seems that annual vaccination may be reasonable, although public health experts have not yet decided on a long-term vaccination plan against the Corona virus.
People with cancer are especially advised to get vaccinated, because cancer and its treatment may affect the immune system and make the infection more serious. However, chemotherapy may affect your body’s ability to successfully react to the vaccine, so your oncologist can help you determine the optimal time to get the vaccine if you are undergoing chemotherapy.
Dear doctor. Roach: You recently wrote about varicocele and said it’s more common on the left side of the body. why is that? — I be
Answer: A varicocele is a dilated vein in the spermatic cord that can sometimes cause symptoms of fullness or discomfort in the scrotum. A varicocele forms just like any other varicocele, where increased pressure damages the vein or the valves inside the vein that are supposed to stop blood flowing backwards.
On the left side, the spermatic vein drains into the renal vein, but it does so at a sharp angle that can allow higher pressure and backward blood flow. In contrast, the right spermatic vein drains into the inferior vena cava, which is larger and has lower pressure.
In fact, when a man has a varicocele on the right side only, it raises the concern that there is a tumor that could be compressing the inferior vena cava, such as kidney cancer. However, the risk is still very small – 2.7% in right-sided varicocele compared to 1.6% in left-sided varicocele.
Dr. Roach regrets his inability to respond to individual letters, but will incorporate them into the column whenever possible. Readers can email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu Or mail to 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL
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