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Provenge success stories provide hope for prostate cancer patients. Richard Hamablet is a 15-year prostate cancer survivor who has been through multiple prostate cancer treatments, but the cancer always returned. He recently underwent a new therapy for advanced prostate cancer called Provenge.
According to Dr. Vikas Malhora, M.D., of Florida cancer specialists, Provenge is unique because it is the first immune therapy not just for prostate cancer, but for any cancer. Basically, your own white blood cells are taken from from your body and then cultured in a special lab with a specific protein or antigen that will stimulate your own innate immunity against your prostate cancer cells. When the infusion is given back to you, your cells will attack the prostate cancer cells. According to Dr. Malhora your body loses its ability to recognize the prostate cancer cells as foreign in the same way your body recognizes and attacks an infection. Following the Provenge vaccine, your body better identifies prostate cancer cells and begins to again attack them as foreign.
While Hamablet experienced a few side effects like headache and a flu-like syndrome, he tolerated the Provenge vaccine well. The most common Provenge side effects include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Joint pain
After receiving the Provenge vaccine Hamablet had an MRI that was unable to detect his prostate cancer. Both he and his doctor are hopeful. He recommends that all men with advance prostate cancer talk with their doctor to see if they might be a good candidate for the vaccine. In general, the Provenge vaccine is indicated for men with:
- Elevated PSA levels despite other hormone treatment
- Cancer that has spread to other parts of the body
- Advanced disease that is not significant enough to require narcotics for pain
Another in a line of Provenge success stories, Bejamin Acob, a stage 4 prostate cancer patient, said the collection and infusion process only took a few hours. He was particularly happy when his cancer treatment center, the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center, became the first center in California to be able to both harvest and deliver the Provenge vaccine. This prevented him from having to make a long trip into Los Angeles for the harvesting and treatment.
All patients are different and you need to speak with your doctor about whether or not the Provenge vaccine might be appropriate for you. In the study that led to the approval of the Provenge vaccine:
- More men treated with the Provenge vaccine were living three years after receiving the treatment compared to men not treated with Provenge.
- Risk of death in the Provenge group was 22% less than in the non-treated group.
According to Dr. Malhora, immune therapy is one of the newest, exciting realms in the fight against prostate cancer. we expect to hear of many more Provenge success stories in the years to come.
Sources for Provenge Success Stories:
Kantoff PW, Higano CS, Shore ND, Berger ER, Small EJ, Penson DF, Redfern CH, Ferrari AC, Dreicer R, Sims RB, Xu Y, Frohlich MW, Schellhammer PF, IMPACT Study Investigators. Sipuleucel-T Immunotherapy for Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer. N Engl J Med. 2010; 363:411-422.
Hall SJ, Klotz L, Pantuck AJ, George DJ, Whitmore JB, Frohlich MW, Sims RB. Integrated safety data from 4 randomized, double-blind, controlled trials of autologous cellular immunotherapy with sipuleucel-T in patients with prostate cancer. J Urol. 2011;186(3):877.
Higano CS, Schellhammer PF, Small EJ, Burch PA, Nemunaitis J, Yuh L, Provost N, Frohlich MW. Integrated data from 2 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trials of active cellular immunotherapy with sipuleucel-T in advanced prostate cancer. Cancer. 2009;115(16):3670.