Prostate Cancer Chemotherapy & Immunotherapy

Chemotherapy for Prostate Cancer

Chemotherapy is an option for patients whose prostate cancer has spread outside of the prostate gland or whose hormone therapy is no longer working. While chemotherapy is not expected to destroy all the cancer cells, it may shrink the cancer or slow its growth and reduce pain.

Chemotherapy involves drugs that are either injected or taken by mouth to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, they also damage some normal cells. The chemotherapy dose must be high enough to kill the cancer cells but not high enough to destroy too many healthy cells.

Immunotherapy for Prostate Cancer

Roswell Park offers Provenge®, an FDA-approved immunotherapy for prostate cancer patients. This treatment strengthens your own immune system to fight your cancer. You may be eligible if:

  • Your cancer has metastasized (spread) outside the prostate to other parts of your body.
  • Your PSA continues to rise even though you are on hormone therapy.

How does it work? Some of your immune cells are collected in a process called leukapheresis, which is similar to a blood donation. The cells are then sent to a laboratory, where a special antigen, or protein, is added to them to help them track down and kill cancer cells. This creates a personalized vaccine, which is given to you intravenously (through an IV) in three doses, about two weeks apart.

Provenge® was the first therapeutic cancer vaccine approved by the FDA.