Ins and Outs of Provenge Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Ins and Outs of Provenge Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Provenge is a treatment used for advanced prostate cancer. The novel treatment works by utilizing your own immune system to help fight the cancer. The treatment isn’t for everyone as it is costly and has normal and dangerous side effects. The decision to get the use of this treatment method is something that should be discussed completely with your doctor and family, but if you simply want to learn more about your options, there are plenty of things to know.
When Should This Be Used
The only time this treatment should be used in your attempt to fight prostate cancer is when hormonal therapy simply isn’t working anymore. At this stage in your advanced prostate cancer, normal chemotherapy and hormonal therapies won’t work anymore. With that being said, the only alternative you may have to fight the cancer would be Provenge.
How it Works
The way Provenge works is as an immunotherapy. Your own body’s immune system will determine that it needs to fight the cancer. The way this works is by getting the immune cells taken out of your body and treated with Provenge. When these cells and then infused back into your blood stream, your cells should have been trained to attack the dangerous cells that contain prostate cancer. With time, Provenge should also begin to help your body increase its own response to the cancer. Since it is using your own cells as an advantage to fight the cancer attacking your body, it can be said that this is the only personalized form of treatment for prostate cancer.
When you have prostate cancer and you are not using Provenge, some of the cells in your body are allowing the cancerous cells to roam around freely. When you are on Provenge, these cells are ferociously fought and contested. With this treatment, the cells in your body are getting trained to recognize the bad cells and aggressively pursue them in an attempt to fight them.
If you and your doctor decide that Provenge is the right step for you to take in your treatment of prostate cancer, it doesn’t mean you won’t go through the same side effects seen with normal treatments of other cancers. The most basic side effect you will feel when on this treatment is flu like symptoms. This is something that can’t be avoided. It is just a matter of how bad these symptoms are felt by you on any given day.
Other side effects that you will feel when using this treatment for prostate cancer are muscle aches, chills, headache, nausea, fatigue, joint pain, and fever. It is possible to never feel these symptoms if your doctor prescribes you certain medication prior to treatment. These are the basic side effects that you will have to deal with, but there are more dangerous side effects that occur on rare occasion.
Among the most dangerous side effects that can happen are signs of infection, rashes, fast heart rate, and allergic reactions like hives, blisters, and peeling skin. Some patients have reported problems breathing and in other cases, severe pain in the joint and muscles have been felt.
How Often Should You Do The Treatments?
Most cancers and cancer treatments have different treatment times and methods. Using Provenge to treat prostate cancer is the same. The use of this method to fight cancer usually consists of just three cycles that are usually performed a couple weeks apart from each other. With each cycle, you will have two visits for treatment.
In the first visit, cells will be removed from your body and sent away to create your own dose of Provenge. During the second visit of each cycle, you will then get the infusion with your personalized dose. These cycles are done weeks apart to allow time for the infusion to work.
If you would like to take part in a clinical trial to see if Provenge works, you can volunteer to do so. This is something needed in the drug business, as a drug can’t be approved for treatment of prostate cancer without this. The trials are conducted by Dendreon, the pharmaceutical company that is responsible for the treatment. Those taking part in these trials will be compensated by Dendreon in the form of free treatment and occasionally a travel allowance and other benefits.
If you feel like you want to take part in a clinical trial for Provenge, you can go to www.clincialtrials.gov for more information.
If you decide to move past the clinical trials and move right into the treatment method, it will cost a large amount of money. The basic treatment with Provenge will cost you close to $100,000. A normal treatment of Provenge consists of three cycles with two visits per cycle. With six visits costing $93,000 and additional expenses for other doctor visits and travelling, the ability to pay for the treatment could be an issue for most.
For those men aged 65 or older on Medicare, your treatment will be covered. For those without Medicare and instead have a private insurance, you will need to check with them to see if the treatment is covered under your plan. While it is likely that your insurance will cover the treatment because Medicare does, you should be sure to speak to someone in the billing department about how much money you may still be responsible for.
Dendreon has created several programs to assist those undergoing the treatment without insurance coverage.
- Provenge Uninsured Patient Program: Under this program, patients without any health insurance that are deemed eligible will get the treatment for free.
- Co-pay Assistance Program: For those patients with insurance that have high co-pay amounts, this program will help pay that part of your bill. Not all patients are eligible to receive help from this program, but the exact criteria to enter the program are shown on their website.
- Travel Cost Assistance: For those eligible patients that need to travel to get the treatment, this program will help them pay some or all of their travel expenses.