Online fact check FOCUS: Cancer relapses after coronavirus vaccination? This is what the experts say about the anti-vaccination theory
Anti-vaccination theories keep causing a stir. For example, the rumor that corona vaccinations have led to relapses in cancer patients. What’s really the point.
Rumor is circulating in anti-vaccination circles that the corona vaccine is causing an increase in relapses in cancer patients. The thesis: Vaccination challenges the immune system, making it more susceptible to other diseases. In the case of cancer patients, this should lead to so-called recurrences, i.e. recurrences in the sense of new tumor formation.
Word recurrence According to the Bavarian Cancer Society, doctors use it after successful cancer treatment if a solid tumor comes back in the same place. There are also recurrences of leukemia and lymphoma: after a while, cancer cells can then be detected again in the blood or in the lymph.
Virologist Kekulé: There is no evidence at all
But what is the truth of this theory? Nothing – virologist Alexander Kekulé makes this clear in the MDR podcast “Kekulés Corona-Kompass”. “There are no data at all, which indicate that the likelihood of cancer recurrence is increased after vaccination,” he explains. Statistics show that recurrences after corona vaccinations are no more frequent than without. Vaccination actually causes a kind of irritation of the immune system. However, it has not been proven to cause cancer cells to lose control.
About the Expert
Alexander Kekulé is director of the Institute of Medical Microbiology at the University of Halle. As a member of the Protection Commission, he has long advised the federal government on pandemic planning and disease control.
It can happen that former cancer patients suffer from recurrences, even after vaccination. “But it’s no indication of causation‘,” Kekule points out. Such cases have opened the door to vaccine opponents. But: “At the end of the day, hard facts matter,” Kekule says. was able to demonstrate an increased likelihood of recurrence after vaccination.
FOCUS Online also asked the German Cancer Research Center. Susanne Weg-Remers, head of the Cancer Information Service, agrees with virologist Kekulé: “So far, there is no significant evidence that corona vaccines promote the development of cancer or have a adverse effect on cancer progression,” she explains.
Help for those affected
Have you or someone close to you been touched by cancer? The Cancer Information Service answers patients’ most important questions about corona vaccinations.
Experts call for vaccination of cancer patients
As Weg-Remers explains, “Virtually all cancer patients may be advised to get a corona vaccine.” Unvaccinated cancer patients would have a much higher risk of severe evolution of Covid-19 than vaccinated ones.
Vaccination was “strongly recommended” for cancer patients with good reason, Kekulé points out. Especially in patients who have already had chemotherapy or a serious tumor. Their immune system is usually weakened. “And statistically speaking, these immunocompromised people have a higher risk of developing serious illnesses from Covid”, explains the virologist. “It is therefore strongly recommended – and I can repeat it here again – that these people are absolutely vaccinated.”
Rather, the opposite applies: Vaccination is not a danger for former cancer patients – but not vaccination.
Reading tip: “The Corona Compass” (Advertisement)
“How we live with the pandemic and what we can learn from it” by Alexander Kekulé
When patients should talk to their doctor
Kekulé only advises patients who are receiving acute treatment to speak to a doctor before vaccination. For example, there are new methods of activating the immune system against cancer cells. “And it is quite true that you should not be vaccinated at the same time.” Vaccination would then have an undesirable reinforcing effect on treatment, which in turn would have an effect on vaccination. In such cases, there should be an interval of at least three months between vaccination and vaccination. “But of course the doctors know that,” Kekulé says.
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