Making use of the primary tumour.
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Surgical resection of a primary tumour is often not sufficient to cure a patient. Even when no residual cancer can be detected at time of surgery, metastases may appear in the following years, which indicates that the primary tumour had apparently spread before surgery. Following surgery, systemic chemotherapy may be used to eradicate micro-metastatic disease. Here we present two unconventional strategies that implement new insights into tumour biology and tumour immunology in the treatment of patients with cancer. Both experimental strategies use the individual characteristics of the patient's primary tumour to optimise the control of life-threatening micro-metastases. We aim to modulate the patient's adaptive immune system, targeting it towards the patient's own tumour cells to eradicate residual disease following local treatment. In one approach, this is done by autologous tumour cell vaccinations as adjuvant treatment for colon cancer patients and, in a second approach, by giving chemo-immunotherapy before local treatment to women with locally advanced breast cancer.