Provenge brings new hope for prostate cancer patients

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by Wendy Rigby / KENS 5

kens5.com

Posted on November 14, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 10:26 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio doctors are hailing a new treatment for prostate cancer. It’s not only increasing survival, but it’s much easier on patients than traditional chemotherapy.

Seventy-five-year-old Frank Reyes of Del Rio is in the fight of his life. He’s been dealing with prostate cancer since 1994. Now it has spread to the bone.
 
“We tried everything else already,” Reyes said. “And nothing had worked. He (the doctor) said maybe this would work.”
 
Instead of chemotherapy, his doctors have chosen a new treatment just approved by the FDA in April. It’s called Provenge, an immunotherapy.
 
“We stimulate the patient’s own immune system to fight off the cancer,” explained Dr. Daniel Saltzstein, a urologist with Urology San Antonio.
 
Here’s how it works. The patient goes to the blood bank to donate his own immune cells. They are sent away to a lab in Georgia.
 
The harvested cells are combined with an immuno-stimulator and prostate cancer cells. Three days later, in an hour-long infusion, the drug is returned to the body.
 
The Provenge helps the patient’s immune system recognize cancer cells, seek them out and destroy them.
Provenge has been shown to extend life expectancy by 22 percent, at least four months in advanced cases.
“I have hope,” Reyes stated.
 
“It’s a very non-toxic way to improve quality of life and survival,” Saltzstein added. “It’s a huge advantage over chemotherapy. Patients tolerate it well and their outcomes are great.”
 
Prostate cancer is the number two cancer killer in men. This year, more than 33,000 American men will die from the disease. That’s why this new advance is so welcomed by doctors and patients.
 
For more information, contact Urology San Antonio at (210) 614-4544.
 

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