Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Provenge & Abiratarone offer new hope

with 2 comments

Provenge® is classified under immunotherapy as a treatment option for men who have asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic prostate cancer that has spread (metastasized) and also resisted hormone therapy. Used in conjunction with Abiratarone , it has become part of that Game Changing protocol.

First of all, the two drugs are not in the same drug class:

Zytiga has a unique quality in that it is the only hormone therapy drug that stops hormone production in three sites: the testes, adrenal glands, and the prostate tumor itself. Other hormone therapies for prostate cancer are capable of interfering with hormone production in the first two mentioned sites only.

Zytiga (Abiratarone) which could extend the life of men with advanced prostate cancer who have exhausted all other treatment options has been approved for use in Australia.  It is the first of a new generation of drugs to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for men who have become resistant to prostate cancer hormone treatments.  The drug’s manufacturer is working with the federal government to add the therapy to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to be subsidised in Australia.

Provenge is a form of immunotherapy, and it is the only drug for advanced prostate cancer that can make this claim.

It is often referred to as a vaccine for treatment of PC and is the only immunotherapy drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of advanced prostate cancer. (Source)

Provenge is unlike other prostate cancer treatments, which means it is designed to utilize and work with a man’s immune system to fight prostate cancer. In this sense, Provenge is sometimes referred to as a prostate cancer vaccine, because  vaccines are also a form of immunotherapy. However, unlike a true vaccine, Provenge cannot provide immunity against disease.

Provenge uses a man’s own immune cells to battle prostate cancer. To accomplish this, a series of carefully orchestrated steps must be followed, with the end result being a drug that is personalized for each patient. Those steps are explained below (“How Provenge Treatment Works”).


Don’t be too enthused about these treatments yet as the expense is horrendous … somewhere over $100,000 to use them both and I don’t see the PBS buying into them at this early stage.


Written by Greg Naylor

8 July 2012 at 12:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Greg: A really good article that simplifies the definitions of these new drugs for easy understanding by us idiots. I know the cost is prohibitive but the PBS will make it available to those that can benefit by it when all else fails that is of course if it is accepted by the government to go on the scheme. I just recently ordered and paid for my next Eligard (Hormone treatment implant) due on the 17th July and good for the next four months and it cost me $7.00 through the PBS system when the actual cost is over $1500 for the injection. In any case old mate a great article and I hope you can reap the benefits of this ASAP.

    Lee Gallagher

    8 July 2012 at 9:24 pm

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