How To Know if Provenge Is Right For You

If you are wondering how to choose a prostate cancer treatment, there are several things you should know. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that afflict American men, second only to skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about one in six men will be diagnosed with the disease. Prostate cancer becomes metastatic, or advanced, when it spreads to nearby tissues, glands, bones, or other parts of the body that are outside the prostate gland.

There is no cure for advanced prostate cancer. However, when learning how to choose a prostate cancer treatment, it’s important for you to know that treatments for advanced prostate cancer can slow the growth of cancer cells and prolong life. One such option is Provenge. WebMD notes that Provenge can extend the lives of patients by several months or even by years for some patients.

Talk to your doctor

Talk to your doctor to see how to choose a prostate cancer treatment and if Provenge might be right for you. Provenge is typically considered for patients who are already on hormone therapy, with rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. This prostate cancer treatment is only intended for those with cancer that has spread outside the prostate gland. It’s also recommended that men with few or no cancer-related symptoms consider Provenge. To be a candidate for Provenge, you must also not be taking any narcotics for cancer-related pain.

Before beginning prostate cancer treatment with Provenge, always make sure your doctor has your full medical history. In particular, he will need to know about any heart or lung problems, whether you have a history of stroke, and about any medications or supplements you are taking.

How is Provenge administered?

Provenge goes beyond a simple injection or pill; each dosage is made from your own immune cells to fight the cancer. You will visit a cell collection center about three days before each scheduled dosage so that the medication can be prepared. A total of three doses will be administered, spaced apart at approximately two-week intervals.

Before the doctor administers each dose, you will be given an oral acetaminophen and an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine. This is to prevent some of the possible infusion reactions, like chills and fever. About 30 minutes after receiving these medications, you will receive the dose of Provenge intravenously, or into a vein.

The infusion typically takes about 60 minutes to complete. If you experience any reactions, alert the doctor immediately and he will either slow or stop the infusion.

How safe is it?

Provenge is considered to be generally safe. For the most part, any reported side effects as a result of the treatment have been mild or moderate. These might include headache, nausea, fever, joint pain, and fatigue. It’s also possible that this medication could slightly increase your risk of a stroke. Talk to your doctor about how to choose a prostate cancer treatment and if Provenge might be right for you. Consider whether the benefits of extending your life outweigh the potential risks.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.