Provenge, despite its demonstrated survival advantage, continues to be knocked as a viable treatment for men with castrate-resistant prostate cancer.
What is Provenge?
Provenge is immunotherapy for men with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. In other words, Provenge might help men live longer after their cancer has spread outside of the prostate and are no longer responding to androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).
Provenge is a personalized, tailored-for-you therapy made with your own cells. Even though Provenge is created using your own blood, it is not going to help all men with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer.
Will Provenge lower my PSA?
Provenge does not lower PSA. In fact, many men will continue to see their PSA rise, as well as their prostate cancer progress, based on scans. With the emphasis on PSA prior to becoming metastatic, it’s easy to feel worried or skeptical regarding Provenge if don’t see a drop in your PSA during Provenge therapy.
Don’t worry if your PSA doesn’t decline because Provenge has a different mechanism of action than other drugs that treat prostate cancer. Provenge is designed to stimulate your immune system so that it recognizes prostate cancer cells and attacks them.
Many treatments like androgen deprivation therapy lower your PSA score. You do a treatment, your PSA score changes up or down, you can modify the treatment or stick with it.
There is no commercially available test to demonstrate Provenge is working – you just live longer.
When should I consider using Provenge?
Provenge might work best immediately when a man becomes castrate-resistant. The earlier the disease progression and the less aggressive the disease, the more effective the treatment might be for the individual. For example, we do know that men who utilize Provenge when their PSA is low (under 22) can potentially extend life by more than 13 months over those who don’t use Provenge. (See the study using this link.)
Men should have a life expectancy of greater than six months because while immune system stimulation occurs once the drug is infused, patients who have time to let cancer-attacking cells proliferate in their bodies may benefit the most.
What do support group members think about Provenge?
Our support group men suggest that Provenge’s effectiveness is maximized by using it with additional treatments like radiation or chemo, that presents a lot of cancer antigens to the immune system.
A number of our support group members suggest this helpful hint: get a catheter /Port. It’s a quick outpatient procedure. An IV can be a hassle. A port doesn’t create mobility issues while you’re getting the multi-hour treatment and there is a much higher possibility that the procedure of filtering the blood is quicker and more successful. The only disadvantages are you have two 2 inch tubes and caps hanging out of your chest. They must be cleaned at home every seven days.
Is Provenge the only immunotherapy out there?
Provenge is the only immunotherapy so far that has been demonstrated to help men live longer with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Keytruda is another type of immunotherapy, but it only seems to work on men with the genomic abnormality MSI-Hi/dMMR, which is very rare in prostate cancer.
Post revised on May 7, 2019