Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in South Carolina. Our state ranks third in the nation for prostate cancer deaths. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
Now, a new treatment is prolonging life for men who have prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Lexington Medical Center has begun using a first-of-its-kind treatment known as Provenge to treat these men.
Provenge works by using the patient’s own blood cells to help fight the cancer.
“It’s a way to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight cancer,” said Dr. Steve Madden, oncologist at Lexington Oncology Associates, a physician practice that’s part of Lexington Medical Center.
Here is a video from the Provenge website.
Provenge requires a several step process. First, clinicians withdraw some immune cells from the patient’s blood. Second, the cells undergo a process where white blood cells – which contain immunity cells – are incubated in a lab with antigens (proteins) that stimulate the cells to fight against prostate cancer. Finally, the cells are infused back into the patient.
So far, Provenge has been shown to be successful in prolonging life for patients with metastasized prostate cancer. Studies have shown that Provenge can extend the average life span to more than two years. That’s good news. Once prostate cancer has spread, it often goes to the bones and lymph nodes, which can be deadly.
In theory, doctors say you could use the same kind of process for other types of cancer in the future. Provenge is FDA approved and covered by Medicare.