Seattle-Based 'Breakthrough' Cancer Treatment Helping Patients Survive Prostate Cancer

HealthCancerDiseases and IllnessesBreast CancerDendreon Corporation

A new FDA approved treatment developed in Seattle is offering hope for men fighting prostate cancer. Many in the medical world are calling Dendreon's 'Provenge Vaccine-A' cancer treatment a true breakthrough.

The FDA approved Provenge vaccine, a first of its kind prostate cancer treatment in April. It's an alternative to chemotherapy that works by training a person's own immune system to attack cancer cells.

Two and a half years ago doctors told Victor Hager that the bladder infection he thought he had was actually a very advanced case of prostate cancer.

His wife of 50 years knew what he was up against. She's a breast cancer survivor herself.

The Hagers understood the options, but were worried about the side effects. Victor chose to skip radiation, and instead have radical surgery. He also entered a clinical trial for an experimental treatment therapy called Provenge.

Dr. John Corman says "Provenge is the first active immune therapy against cancer in general, or prostate cancer specifically and the implications for it are huge."

Dr. Corman says unlike traditional cancer treatments, Provenge is tailor-made, produced by taking cells from the patients own tumor and incorporating them into a vaccine. He says that type of approach is, in turn, teaching scientists how to harness the immune system to fight cancers of all kinds.

"So we're teaching an innate system how to be smarter, find what the true enemy is and the true enemy are cancer cells" Corman says.

Like his wife, Victor Hager is now cancer-free, and confident this breakthrough treatment is the "magic bullet" he was looking for.

The FDA says side effects include chills, fatigue, fever, back pain, nausea, joint aches and head aches.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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