Nov 16, 2010 9:24 AM by Bea Karnes
SAN FRANCISCO (NBC) - It's estimated that one in six men in the United States will get prostate cancer, but researchers at the University of California San Francisco say a new treatment could make the disease a thing of the past.
It's called Provenge.
"What Provenge does is it really allows us to stimulate the immune system to really activate and target the cancer," explains Dr. Lawrence Fong.
It works in three stages.
First cells from the immune system are drawn from the blood stream.
Then they're sent to a lab where they are stimulated and whipped into top shape.
Afterwards the cells are put back into the patient's body, where they'll start fighting the cancer.
Dr. Fong says it's like sending the immune system to boot camp.
"We sort of reset and re-energize the immune system in that way to be able to target the cancer cells," he says.
If successful, doctors hope life will go on for more patients by developing vaccines for every cancer.
So far about 20 patients have enrolled in the trial, but University of California San Francisco is looking for more.
Right now the vaccine is only being used to treat people who have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and are planning to undergo surgery.
Once the trial is over they hope to begin treating men with the vaccine as a preventative measure.
For up-to-date information on all cancers and prevention, contact the Dorcy Cancer Center at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo.