Breaking Down A Breakthrough: Pros & Cons Of Provenge - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Breaking Down A Breakthrough: Pros & Cons Of Provenge

Posted: Updated:

CLEVELAND (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Four months.  It may not seem like a long time to many people, but for those with cancer, it's 120 days they might not have. A breakthrough treatment for prostate cancer patients is changing that for some, but people who've gone through the process have mixed emotions about it.

Ray Schmidlin and Robert Obin are two men with prostate cancer who know the disease will kill them.

"I expect to die of prostate cancer.  It's a matter of when," Ray Schmidlin, told Ivanhoe.

They have both been treated with Provenge, a therapeutic vaccine using their own blood to slow down the cancer. Certain cells are harvested, altered and infused back into the body to help the immune system attack the cancer. Studies show it can improve a patient's median survival rate by four months, and it reduced patients' risk of death by 22 percent. Robert believes it's the reason he's still around.

"It's not going to cure me, but that will help me to give me, I don't know, more days?" Robert Obin said.

Ray said the immunotherapy took a toll on him. The active grandfather told Ivanhoe he was strapped down for several hours at a time during six weeks of treatment.

"And that was pretty stressful, because you couldn't, you couldn't move," Ray said.

He's not sure the discomfort and confinement was worth it.

"If I'm going to live 60 months, I don't want to spend the money and the time to live 64 months," Ray said.

"I think it's a controversial topic," Jorge A. Garcia, M.D., a director advanced prostate cancer program at the Cleveland Clinic, said.

Ray's physician doctor Jorge Garcia of the Cleveland clinic said there are misconceptions about Provenge.

"The patient automatically believes if I get the treatment, I'm going to live four months more, and that's inaccurate," Dr. Garcia said.

Garcia said some live longer but some don't make it to four months, and it's not for all prostate cancer patients. It's designed for those who show few or no symptoms, but have a form of the disease that has spread and is resistant to hormonal therapy.

"I think that there's a selective group of patients who should actually consider getting it," Dr. Garcia said.

Garcia said it doesn't lower PSA levels, shrink tumors, or reduce symptoms like bone pain.

"But yet, you're likely to live longer," Dr. Garcia said.

While the doctor believes Provenge is a breakthrough, he says it's important for patients like Ray and Robert know it may or may not be the right option for them.

Provenge costs $93,000. It's now covered by Medicare, but the time it takes for the treatment seems to be driving some doctors and patients away. Recent reports show Zytiga, a newly approved pill for advanced prostate cancer that's also been shown to prolong life by four months in clinical trials is gaining in popularity. It costs $5,000 a month and usually takes eight months to complete the drug cycle.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

PROSTATE CANCER: Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. There were 240,000 estimated new cases and deaths from prostate cancer just in 2011. (Source: CDC)

PROVENGE: Provenge is a cell therapy that aims to train the immune system to attack tumor cells. It's made using cells from a patient's own immune system, so it cannot be warehoused like many other drugs. The process of making Provenge involves the exposure of a patient's immune cells to a protein that functions as a prostate cancer-associated antigen. An antigen is a substance that causes the body to react with an immune response. This process activates the patient's immune cells against prostate cancer to help the immune system better fight the disease. The most common side effects reported with PROVENGE are chills, fatigue, fever, back pain, nausea, joint ache, and headache. These are not all the possible side effects of Provenge treatment. (Source: Dendreon.com, Provenge.com)

THE DRUG DEBATE: A new survey of cancer doctors is found the miracle drug has some cons as well. The percentage of patients who are deemed eligible for Provenge seems to be going down, declining from 37% to 24%. Of the 67% of total responders who did not have access to Provenge at the time of the survey, just 50% indicate they will prescribe Provenge once it becomes available. (Source: Forbes.com)

A NEW MIRACLE? A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows, the newly approved prostate cancer pill Zytiga may extend life by up to four months in men with spreading cancer who have already been treated with chemotherapy. It inhibits a protein that helps form male hormones. Men who took the new pill also saw greater responses in levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) than men who received placebo. This survival edge was considered so significant that men who received the placebo were permitted to switch to the new drug before the study was completed.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Tora Vinci
Media Relations
Cleveland Clinic
(216)444 -2412
vinciv@ccf.org

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Stopping Tinnitus In Its Tracks

    Stopping Tinnitus In Its Tracks

    Thursday, April 24 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-24 21:15:06 GMT
    Terry Price had tinnitus: a constant high-pitched ringing in the ears. He had to give up music and even contemplated retiring. Now, researchers are planning a clinical trial to test Vagus nerve stimulation.
    more>>
    Terry Price had tinnitus: a constant high-pitched ringing in the ears. He had to give up music and even contemplated retiring. Now, researchers are planning a clinical trial to test Vagus nerve stimulation.

    more>>
  • Growing Stem Cells In Space?

    Growing Stem Cells In Space?

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:15:09 GMT
    Hemorrhagic stroke is responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths. It happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain.more>>
    Hemorrhagic stroke is responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths. It happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain.more>>
  • New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:00:21 GMT
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.
    more>>
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.

    more>>
  • Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Monday, April 21 2014 6:15 PM EDT2014-04-21 22:15:09 GMT
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.
    more>>
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.

    more>>
  • Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Friday, April 18 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-18 21:15:06 GMT
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
  • Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:15:09 GMT
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure, but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms.more>>
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure for SMA but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms, it targets mutated SMN genes, which are responsible for SMA.more>>
  • Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:15:09 GMT
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
  • Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Friday, April 11 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-11 21:15:07 GMT
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a rare type of melanoma that targets the eye. It can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a type of melanoma that targets the eye. It affects about 2,000 people a year in the United States. Although rare – it can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
  • Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Thursday, April 10 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-10 21:15:09 GMT
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
  • Pedaling For A Cure

    Pedaling For A Cure

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.