Getting vaccinated against influenza has never been more important. Public health officials recommend flu vaccines for everyone 6 months or older with only a few exceptions. This even holds true for cancer patients.
Flu shots benefit those getting treated for cancer in the obvious way: that is, they are much less likely to get the flu (and its potentially serious complications) while undergoing the stress of cancer treatment. In addition, having cancer makes a person at higher risk of complications from the flu and those who previously had cancer are also in the category of people more likely to develop flu complications. In short, the prevention and protection garnered from a flu shot makes sense.
Now, in an interesting development, new research (which is currently at the animal model stage) suggests that flu vaccines could make immunotherapy-based cancer treatments more effective. This study, which was conducted by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, noted that the immune stimulation of a flu vaccine seems to help the body recognize and destroy cancer cells.
This research adds credence to data showing that people with lung cancer who also recently had influenza-related infections live longer, on average, than other lung cancer patients. With the new evidence of this flu vaccine study, it may be that lung cancer patients can get the longevity boost from a flu shot, without the health risks of actually having the flu.
To sum up: there’s now more reason than ever for lung cancer (and any type of cancer) patients to keep up-to-date on their flu shots.