Mitchell Cancer Institute making research breakthroughs

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September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, and the Mitchell Cancer Institute is a research hospital, always working on technological advances in cancer treatment. It’s a research-driven, academic-based cancer center where people all around the Gulf Coast have been getting cancer treatment for almost 14 years.

“We actually do the research that then hopefully leads to better discoveries for more cures and better survivals for patients with cancer. We’re the only academic, research-driven cancer center in this area. You’d have to go to essentially Tampa to our east or Houston to our west to get in a similar type institution,” said Dr. Rod Rocconi, GYN Oncologist.

Patients with any type of cancer, including GYN cancer, can be seen at the Mitchell Cancer Institute, and they come primarily from Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

“We do see a lot of patients, fortunately, and unfortunately because that means there’s a lot of cancer here in our region. Our number of patients that come in through our doors is probably on the scale of you know, 55,000 to 65,000,” Dr. Rocconi told Cherish Lombard.

Researchers are working to find ways to reduce that number, including new discoveries in immunotherapy, essentially taking a patient’s immune system and turning it to attack their cancer.

Dr. Rocconi said, “Cancer cells have their own unique antigens or markers on the outside and this trial was to create a vaccine to that patient’s specific antigens, or her cancer, and use immunotherapy with that to really turn on that patient’s immune system and attack the cancer.”

Each vaccine was personalized for each individual patient, and we’re told the response has been pretty incredible.

“What we believe with that like any other vaccine, once it’s turned on, that immune system would recognize it early if a recurrence would come back. And that’s what we’re hoping for to get more cures and less recurrences and better survivals down the road,” said Dr. Rocconi.

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