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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reportingAn experimental drug appears to boost survival among prostate cancer patients. It's a new way to treat a very common cancer.
Preliminary results from a small study of an experimental prostate cancer vaccine are showing promise that the drug works.
Eduardo Garcia thought he had beaten prostate cancer fourteen years ago. But his cancer came back, and started to spread.
Dr. E. Roy Berger/ "Surviving Prostate Cancer": "One in approximately five to six men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime, and about one in 19 will die of it."
Eduardo decided to enter a clinical trial using an experimental prostate cancer vaccine called Provenge. And he's glad he did.
This vaccine is unlike any other traditional vaccine. The shots are customized for each patient. Instead of preventing disease, the drug takes aim at tumors, by training the immune system to fight the cancer.
Dr. E. Roy Berger: "So we're basically turning the immune system on with a vaccine that will attack prostate cancer cells."
In a study of nearly 130 men with advanced prostate cancer, the men who got the vaccine lived almost five months longer than those who got a placebo.
And unlike chemotherapy, there are fewer side effects. Most patients will get a fever and chills.
Dr. Manuel Guerra/ Mercy Hospital: "There's no chemo. There's no radiation. There's no hormonal therapy involved with it."
And that means impotence, incontinence, and loss of libido can be avoided. Which is good news for patients like Eduardo. His cancer has been stopped, but he certainly hasn't.
Experts say that while the findings are encouraging, longer term study in bigger groups of patients is needed before they have a clear picture of the benefits and risks associated with Provenge.