Provenge, also known as sipuleucel-T, is a type of immunotherapy that uses a patient’s own immune system to treat advanced prostate cancer similar to a vaccine.
A patient will have blood removed at a blood donation center, and his white blood cells are then isolated. The white blood cells are stimulated and primed to target prostate cancer cells. The patient then receives his upgraded immune cells as treatment through an intravenous infusion. The process is repeated for a total of three infusions. Provenge is a recommended treatment for asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic men with prostate cancer that has advanced beyond the prostate and is no longer responding to standard androgen deprivation therapy (injections to lower testosterone).
When to ask a Urologist about Provenge
You should speak with a Urologist about Provenge if you have prostate cancer that has advanced beyond the prostate and continues to grow despite initial treatments with androgen deprivation therapy.
Typically covered by most insurances (although coinsurance and deductibles may apply). Coverage will be verified prior to proceeding. If you do not have insurance, our office will be able to give you an out-of-pocket cost estimate.
Early administration in men without symptoms of metastatic prostate cancer improves survival by more than 13 months on average. Once symptoms have developed, the benefit of Provenge is more modest and around 2-3 months increased survival.
Possible Side Effects
Distinguishing it from other treatments for advanced prostate cancer, because it uses your body’s own immune system Provenge has minimal side effects. There can be an allergic reaction, which is quite rare. The common side effects are a flu-shot-like event with slight fever and chills that last typically only one day.
Alternatives to Provenge include the use of more advanced anti-androgen therapies such as Zytiga, Xtandi and Erleada or the use of chemotherapy such as docetaxel.
What to do to Prepare for Procedure
Prior to the infusion, you will undergo blood donation to obtain your immune cells, a process called leukapheresis. Typically, this is performed at a special blood donation center about three days before your scheduled infusion. The blood donation typically takes around three to four hours. The office staff will provide you with precise scheduling information.
What to Expect after Procedure
The infusion procedure takes about two hours. You may have a slight fever and chills for the first 24 hours following the infusion. After the first day, it is very rare to experience side effects. Patients are typically seen about one month following infusion with repeat blood work to assess next treatment steps.