U of M offers cutting edge treatment for prostate cancer

5:03 PM, Oct 4, 2011   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, making the disease the second most common cancer in men.  

The American Cancer Society estimates prostate cancer will claim more than 33-thousand lives this year.

Like many other cancers, early detection is key to treating prostate cancer.  But a Twin Cities hospital has a cutting edge treatment that extends the lives of those with advanced prostate cancer.

78-year-old Bill Woolsey of Inver Grove Heights knows all about it.  It's the latest in the many treatments he's had for prostate cancer.

As a big fan of cooking shows, he combines ingredients in his kitchen to come up with something good.  You could say his doctors have done the same when it comes to the treatments they've given him to extend his life.  Woolsey said, "It has maintained my quality of life because I eat good, sleep good, feel good."

Since his diagnosis in 1998, he's had surgery, radiation, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.  Then just one month ago, he completed the first ever FDA approved immunotherapy for prostate cancer called Provenge.  

A treatment first tested at, and now offered by, the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, urologist Dr. Badrinath Konety said Provenge works like a sniffer dog.

Konety said, "You have the dog sniff the missing person's clothing then you set the dog off to go find the person, that's sort of exactly what we do with Provenge."

He continued, "What we do is we take the white blood cells from the patient and send it off and expose the white blood cells in the laboratory environment to a specific antigen that is found in prostate cancer cells."

Then, he said, "We bring those white blood cells now that are sensitized to prostate cancer and put them back in the patient's body."

Konety says those sensitized white blood cells then sniff out the cancer and kill it.  So what was Woolsey's take on the Provenge treatment?

Woolsey said, "The Provenge treatment was very comfortable no pain issue whatsoever but the results didn't give me the initial results I was looking for.  I was looking for a lowering of my tumor marker or PSA but it in fact did not."Konety said Provenge may not reduce PSA, prostate-specific antigen, but he said research shows it extends the lives of patients by four months.  

Woolsey will take it and he said he's looking forward to other new treatments saying, "There's promise on the horizon."

Living thirteen years with prostate cancer, he turns 79 next week.  Guess it's time to whip up another birthday cake. 

If you'd like to learn more about the latest treatments and breakthroughs in the fight against both prostate and breast cancer, KARE 11's Julie Nelson is hosting a special called "Cutting Edge: Beating Breast and Prostate Cancer."  It airs Saturday, October 8th, 2011 at 7 p.m.

The show is a one-hour look at the most advanced procedures, current medical trials and promising alternative therapies.  

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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