The latest in prostate cancer care is now available in Sioux Falls. Avera McKennan announced they will now offer complete PROVENGE treatments, but what exactly does this mean?
Mike Randall has shown up plenty of times on the KSFY airwaves. As a farmer he's shared his thoughts and his fields with us; but now he's sharing his life. Mike is fighting prostate cancer.
"The nature of the cancer that I had was of a particularly aggressive nature and it was time to get after it and get something done." Said Randall.
To fight back, Mike had his prostate removed, did three years of hormone therapy, and finally radiation after his cancer became stage IV. When all other options failed, Mike was approved to give PROVENGE a try.
"PROVENGE harnesses the body's own immune system to fight cancer." Announced Dr. Addison Tolentino, an oncologist at the Avera Cancer Center.
PROVENGE is a two step process. The first is collecting the immune cells from the bloodstream.
"the process of aphaeresis is to separate blood cells and basically to collect certain blood cells that we need for certain treatments." Said Dr. Ahmed Galal, a hematologist with the Avera Medical Group Hematology.
With the patient's cells collected, they are then sent to a PROVENGE facility and enriched with cancer-fighting proteins and antigens in the dose specific to the patient. These charged cells are then sent back to Avera McKennan and re-infused into the patient. Once these super charged cells are back in the blood stream they begin activating the patient's T-cells, which are the most effective cancer fighting immune cells in the body. Once activated these T-cells multiply and move through the body and are now able to recognize and attack prostate cancer cells.
Patients undergo three infusion sessions, two weeks apart, but much like chemotherapy, infusion sessions are not easy.
"I remember one of the infusion cycles I just went into chills and it lasted I suppose for 10 minutes and they would put warm blankets on me and I just had a hard time getting on top of that but we did." Said Randall.
With a little bit of pain PROVENGE was able to loosen cancer's grip on Mike.
"And it's just nice to be able to breathe now, and not have that... That ugly feeling." Said Randall.
PROVENGE does not cure cancer but it offers many men battling prostate cancer a better chance to find some healing. For Mike and his doctors it also gives hope as the door to other treatments is just starting to open.
"PROVENGE therapy is a step forward in our understanding to perhaps someday we can have a better PROVENGE therapy that can cure cancer by using the patients own cells rather than using more toxic therapy." Said Dr. Tolentino.
Mike's dad spent 30 years also fighting prostate cancer, his example is motivation for Mike.
Every checkup with Dr. Tolentino is also full of encouragement as the words of past cancer fighters and cancer survivors line the walls of the exam room.
"One of those that I recall is that there is always hope... And it's very true." Said Randall.
Avera McKennan is now the only complete PROVENGE therapy provider in the region where cells are both collected and infused. Before, patients would have to travel to Minneapolis, Des Moines, or Omaha. PROVENGE has been proven to reduce prostate cancer deaths by 23% and patients experienced fewer side effects than traditional therapies. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.