Saturday, Jun 14, 2014
Finding new, more effective treatments for cancer is a difficult process, involving years of development, clinical trials and evaluation by the FDA. But it is proving that there are new ways to treat cancer, and for that patient who meets the criteria, it can make all the difference.
Recently the FDA approved the first autologous cellular immunotherapy, called Provenge, for prostate cancer. The makers of the treatment, Dendreon, contacted Harbin Clinic’s cancer doctors because Harbin is one of the most progressive Cancer Centers in the Southeast. Harbin Clinic Medical Oncologists believe Provenge holds great potential. QUOTE OR MORE UPDATED INFO HERE.
Provenge uses the patient’s own body to fight prostate cancer cells. The patient’s own cells are given back to them with very little side effects, as opposed to chemotherapy treatments where normal cells are damaged creating more side effects. Studies have shown it improves the survival in patients with prostate cancer. The overall median survival for patients treated with Provenge is about 24 to 25 months.
Immune cells are collected in a 3 1/2-to-4-hour process called leukapheresis. It’s a way of turning those immune cells to the prostate cancer itself, so that when you give those cells back to the patient, then they attack the prostate cancer cells. They don’t attack normal cells because they’re programmed specifically to attack the prostate cancer cells.
The cells must be infused into the patient within 72 hours. The infusion process takes about two hours. Patients come 30 min before the infusion and have Tylenol and Benadryl to help combat side-effects, which are mostly flu-like symptoms. Patients undergo three cycles of collection and infusion, each about two weeks apart.
This type of treatment isn’t for every prostate cancer patient. Very specific criteria must be met to qualify.
Criteria for Treatment
Provenge (sipuleucel-T) is an autologous cellular immunotherapy for patients who have been screened by a urologist and meet the following criteria prior to referral:
- Metastatic, castrate-resistant prostate cancer
- Asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic (no moderate-to-severe prostate-related pain and no use of narcotics for cancer-related pain)
- Life expectancy of at least 6 months
- ECOG Performance Status 0 or 1
- No treatment with chemotherapy in at least the previous three months
- No visceral (lung, liver or brain) metastases
- No treatment within 28 days with systemic corticosteroids