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The Cuban biotechnology industry is producing cancer immunotherapy, in particular, therapeutic vaccines that actively stimulate the immune system to stabilise the tumour. These products aim to transform metastatic malignancies into a chronic disease. Since 2010, this therapeutic concept has been integrated within a public health experiment, consisting of the large distribution of immunotherapies, including in primary healthcare centres, to enhance access and assess its effectiveness on a wider population of patients. Such experimental intervention, consisting of post-marketing clinical trials, has focused only on lung cancer, one of the most widespread and lethal cancers on the island. Combining interviews with ethnographic observations focusing on care performed by professionals, patients, and their relatives, this paper analyses the experience of lung cancer chronicity under this type of immunotherapy in Cuba. It shows how a certain form of continuity is made between prophylactic and therapeutic vaccination to shape a new temporality of cancer care, through the integration within primary care, constant access to biotechnology, and multiple care practices directed to strengthen the immunotherapy's efficacy. If vaccinal chronicity remains fragile due to its experimental dimension and the fact that long-term survivorship is still an exceptional phenomenon, lung cancer patienthood is deeply transformed through a shared effort of the people and the state to provide more stable, meaningful, and inclusive care.


Nils Graber. Vaccinal chronicity: immunotherapy, primary care, and the temporal remaking of lung cancer's patienthood in Cuba. Anthropology & medicine. 2022 Mar;29(1):45-60

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PMID: 35306938

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