Charles Humphrey is our first patient to undergo Provenge treatment

Fort Wayne Medical Oncology and Hematology patient Charles Humphrey recently underwent treatment with Provenge. We’re among the first cancer practices in northeast Indiana to offer Provenge, an innovative treatment option for advanced prostate cancer patients.

Provenge has been proven to be a very successful treatment for certain men with advanced prostate cancer. Provenge is a biological treatment that actually uses a patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer.

Charles, now retired after 40 years as a heavy-equipment operator for Golden Rule Sewer & Sanitation in Fort Wayne, first learned he had prostate cancer in October 2007, and he began undergoing traditional radiation treatment and hormone therapy.

Charles responded well to treatment, but over time, his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level began to rise again. While it’s normal for men to have a low level of PSA in their blood, elevated levels can indicate the existence of various benign conditions or, as in Charles’ case, prostate cancer.

“We needed to find a way to lower his PSA level,” says Charles’ wife, Emma. “We were encouraged when Charles’ oncologist at Fort Wayne Oncology told us about this new treatment, Provenge.”

Provenge is cellular immunotherapy designed to stimulate a patient’s immune system to identify and target prostate cancer cells. Each dose is manufactured specifically for each patient using his immune cells. During treatment with Provenge, a patient’s white blood cells are collected, activated to seek and attack prostate cancer cells, and reintroduced into the patient’s bloodstream.

Charles’ treatment with Provenge, being administered here under the direction of Dr. Farrukh Adhami, began on May 21, when white blood cells were collected and sent to a facility in New Jersey for activation. The cells were reintroduced into Charles’ bloodstream during subsequent visits to FWMOH.

“Charles is feeling pretty good,” Emma says. “And he hasn’t experienced any side effects from the treatment. We’re very optimistic about this new treatment.”

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer ranks second to skin cancer as the most common cancer in American men. It’s estimated that more than 240,000 new cases will be diagnosed and that more than 28,000 men will die from prostate cancer in 2012. About one man in every six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, and about one in 36 will die of the disease.

“Provenge is a groundbreaking treatment that has extended the lives of men with advanced prostate cancer,” says Dan Konow, chief operating officer for Fort Wayne Medical Oncology and Hematology. “We consistently strive to provide our patients with new avenues of treatment as they become available.”