Scientists are anticipating a significant breakthrough in cancer treatment with the development of vaccines. After years of limited success, researchers believe they have reached a turning point, expecting more effective cancer treatment vaccines to emerge within the next five years.

The vaccines differ from traditional ones that prevent diseases; instead, they aim to shrink tumors and prevent cancer recurrence. Promising results have been reported in experimental treatments targeting breast and lung cancer, as well as recent advancements in tackling deadly skin cancer melanoma and pancreatic cancer, according to CBS News.

Dr. James Gulley, a leading figure at the National Cancer Institute's center for immune therapies and cancer treatment vaccines, expressed optimism about the progress.

"We're getting something to work. Now we need to get it to work better," he said.

Compared to before, scientists now have a deeper understanding of how cancer evades the body's immune system. Cancer vaccines, similar to other forms of immunotherapy, enhance the immune response to identify and destroy cancer cells.

Some of the latest vaccines utilize mRNA technology, initially developed for cancer research but successfully employed in the COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic.

In April, Moderna's groundbreaking mRNA cancer vaccine displayed promising results in clinical trials against the most lethal type of skin cancer. Coupled with Merck's Keytruda immunotherapy, it reportedly reduced the risk of death or cancer recurrence in melanoma patients by 44%.

Dr. Paul Burton, Moderna's chief medical officer, expressed his confidence in the company's cancer vaccine in an exclusive interview with The Guardian.

He stated, "We will have that vaccine, and it will be highly effective, and it will save many hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives. I think we will be able to offer personalized cancer vaccines against multiple different tumor types to people around the world."

Furthermore, the development of more preventive cancer vaccines is on the horizon. Decades-old hepatitis B vaccines have proven effective in preventing liver cancer, while HPV vaccines, introduced in 2006, have significantly reduced the incidence of cervical cancer. Researchers are also exploring vaccines to prevent cancer in individuals with precancerous lung nodules and other genetic conditions that elevate cancer risks, as highlighted by CBS News.

"Vaccines are probably the next big thing" in the pursuit of reducing cancer-related deaths, said Dr. Steve Lipkin, a medical geneticist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

Lipkin leads a project funded by the National Cancer Institute and remains committed to advancing this field of research.

"We're dedicating our lives to that," he added.