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Provenge Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Updated on August 16, 2015
Provenge Therapy - Dave Ligler during his first (out of 3) Leukapheresis
Provenge Therapy - Dave Ligler during his first (out of 3) Leukapheresis | Source

Provenge Therapy for Prostate Cancer

When my husband was first diagnosed in 2008 at age 57 with Stage 2 Prostate Cancer we were heartbroken, yet hopeful. Dave does have a strong family history of Prostate Cancer which is why he began PSA screenings at age 40. We were given a few options by his urologist and Dave decided upon robotic surgery. Surgery was successful by serving it's purpose of removing the prostate, not the cancer.

PSA began to slowly rise shortly after even though post-biopsy results were perfect as stated by his surgeon/urologist.

Dave continued on to receive 38 radiation treatments to his prostate bed as suggested by his radiation oncologist. We later learned these treatments served no purpose since the cancer had obviously already spread.

A bone scan revealed metastatic cancer to his hip area. 15 radiation treatments followed. PSA continued to rise.

At this time Eligard - Hormone Treatment along with Casodex was added to the regime. PSA dropped, we cheered. Six months later PSA began to rise again. A bone scan revealed metastatic cancer to the spine. Ten radiation treatments followed. PSA dramatically jumped on the Richter scale! Monthly Xgeva injections for bone strength were now added.

Almost four years into our journey...Dave was now asymptomatic, castrate resistant and had metastatic cancer. He was now a perfect candidate for Provenge Therapy. As a team, my husband and I, once again, did our research. We were, once again, very hopeful that this treatment will prove beneficial to destroy the cancerous cells.

We could have went with chemotherapy, but when presented with the option of toxic vs non-toxic we choose immunotherapy and we are rooting for Dave's immune system to win this fight! Provenge is less invasive then chemo.

It's the only treatment available besides chemo that will destroy cancer cells. Provenge was just recently approved by the FDA, but that didn't affect our decision. This therapy has been in clinical studies for many years.

We are confident Provenge will get the job done. We hope that after three leukaphoresis treatments alternated with three Provenge infusions it's effects will add more years to Dave's life.

Dave during his first (out of 3) Provenge Treatment
Dave during his first (out of 3) Provenge Treatment | Source

Updates on Prostate Cancer Journey

Update 11/14/11: Part one and Part two went smoothly with the exception of a pit stop for a blood transfusion due to low hemoglobin levels. One more treatment to go!

Final treatment was on 11/30/11.

We won't know how successful Provenge therapy was for a few weeks, we're hoping for the best.

Last PSA check was 556 in October. Initial PSA 4 years ago pre-surgery was 5.8.

12/16/11: First Provenge PSA is 323 ... Oncologist informed us the PSA was double after Provenge. This is one of those times when you are happy your doctor was wrong!:)

12/19/11 Low hemoglobin results 7.6 require an immediate blood transfusion on 12/20/11.

One day at a time.

Would we recommend this treatment to another patient of Prostate Cancer? Probably not.

There is still no concrete proof that it serves it's purpose. We will never know if it worked.

You could find out why we don't support Provenge by reading our journey below.

What I've shared is Dave's and my opinion.

We are in no way trying to convince you to opt out of the treatment.

Always remember that:

  • Each patient is unique
  • Each treatment is unique
  • Each cancer is unique

Yet, we are in this journey together and I wish you good luck and good health.

Sidenote as of June 20th, 2013...Provenge is supposedly beneficial for men with a very low PSA. This is what I've heard since I wrote this article two years ago.


Dave's Prostate Cancer Journey...

I am updating Dave's journey on this article:

Prostate Cancer Doctors: Are They Still Clueless?

Feel free to contact me at:

Have you had Provenge?

See results

Curious minds still want to know more about Provenge...

Are you still curious about Provenge? Read on....What is Provenge?

November 12, 2014 - Provenge is Bankrupt!

Dendreon has announced it has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

If you had Provenge, do you feel it worked?

See results

© 2011 Linda Bilyeu

Please share your experiences or concerns below. Your words might help someone else. Thank you.

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    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hello Paul, I hope whatever treatment you are on lowers your PSA and you kick cancers butt!

    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi Paul, Once Dedreon received their $90,000.00 for treatment they never reached out to us either. I hope your GBS clears up asap!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      i finished provenge in april 2015 and i have never had any follow up from dendreon. i have gbs from the treatment

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      I thought I had been following this courageous journey but now find here is a hub I had missed! I've said it before and will say it again, you and Dave are not only brave but compassionate in your sharing of the details of this horrible crusade you are WINNING! God bless you both.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • conradofontanilla profile image


      7 years ago from Philippines


      I am as eager as you are to see that gene therapy for cancer were in the market. The laboratory procedure is already established by scientists, published in the book "Nitric Oxide Protocols, 2nd edition." It has been tried on mice and found effective. I have at least two Hubs on this topic, like "Better than chemotherapy: this new cure for cancer," and "Chemotherapy and gene therapy for cancer compared." This new cure might be classified as "drug" by the Federal Drug Administration that it should pass the three phases in developing drugs, like it should be safe, and effective in mice, it should be tested on a lot of human patients. It costs a lot to make these tests that a small company cannot afford it. Pharmaceuticals like Big Pharma can do it. However, it competes with conventional drugs against cancer that it will make them obsolete or put them out of market, thus lessen profits from conventional cancer drugs. So development of gene therapy for cancer on human beings is put to the burner.

      I am not familiar with Provenge. I am familiar with infusion chelation therapy because I am undergoing chelation therapy for my heart disease, and I am getting cured.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      7 years ago from Carson City

      Hey gf....This never fails to confuse and infuriate me. God only knows how you have maintained your sanity for the past years......what a painful Merry-go-round. As always, I support you and Dave in this courageous war.

      After reading the last few comments, I do have a question for conrado and/or you: I know what chelation infusion therapy is.....but what is the relationship to chelation and provenge...aren't they diametrically opposing treatments? one, homeopathic and one, orthodox (chemo)? What am I missing?

      Per Gene Therapy, you use the term "new cure"...while at the same time, stating it is NOT on the market yet! If it is truly a CURE....why in God's name is it not available to desperate cancer patients?? Let's get these treatments available as quickly as they can hit the market. The medical community uses patients as guinea pigs, at any event!!

      Is it me....or is this crazy stuff? It makes me angry.

    • conradofontanilla profile image


      7 years ago from Philippines

      I read Dr. Howard Kaufman's book, The Melanoma Handbook, that immunotherapy is used to treat melanoma or skin cancer. The treatment is leukotrine II if my memory does not fail me. It boosts the immune system.

      A new cure that is not yet in the market is gene therapy for cancer. I discuss this in three Hubs of mine. Gene therapy is like chemotherapy in that both use free radicals to kill cancer cells. However, chemotherapy delivers free radicals indiscriminately so that they land on healthy and cancer cells, that is why there are side effects of chemo. Gene therapy delivers free radicals precisely on cancer cells and kill cancer cells only.

    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi Conrad, Thank you for the information. But, I have yet to hear or read a Provenge success story. This treatment was approved two years ago, I think by now someone must know if Provenge worked or not.

      I did hear from our oncologist that Provenge is most successful on younger men with a very low PSA, yet he still suggested it for my husband. Go figure.

    • conradofontanilla profile image


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Dr. Arturo Estuita, a Filipino internist and chelationist has been administering infusion chelation therapy to treat cancer. It has four main functions. One, it kills virus which is found in all cancer cells, it adds to causes of cancer. Two, chelation removes minerals that accelerate multiplication of cancer cells. It also regresses aberrations in chromosome so that cancer cells can revive their ability to apoptose, that is, undergo natural and programmed death. Four, it catches free radicals and reactive oxygen species that cause mutation that result in tumor or cancer.

    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi Deb, I'm sorry you are going through this mess with Dendreon especially with everything else you have going on by taking care of your husband. I agree there is no proof that Provenge truly works and for them to charge so much money for the treatment is ludacris!!! Dave finished his treatments about 18 months ago. Since then he's been treated with Zytiga, Taxotere and had mets to his brain. I'm not a fan of Provenge. Maybe someone out there is.

      Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you both the best of luck on your continued roller coaster Prostate Cancer journey.

    • rideinthesidecar2 profile image

      Deborah Freed 

      7 years ago from Virginia Mountains

      I'm posting here because my husband finished Provenge and I am VERY disappointed in the drug company Dendreon for their outrageous costs for their "immuneotherapy" and the lack of positive results plus my rant after being told they would only provide patient assistance with the leukoparesis and infusions but not with the port placement. In the photos of Dave above you see he has IVs in both of his arms. this is difficult as Linda points out for a man to sit for 3-4 hours hoping the IV lines wont clot off or clog. Our oncologist recommended my husband have a dialysis type catheter placed in his upper chest for his Provenge therapy. His office and we thought that the patient assistance program would offset the cost of that. At this moment I am both furious and feel HAD! My husband has stage IV prostate cancer with mets to lungs and chest lymphs. His oncologist recommended he do Provenge which is a supposed immunotherapy that super charges the T cells and immune system. There is no way to verify this except when a future treatment works for longer than projected or the patient is alive longer than projected then Provenge says it must be because of the boosted immune system. BS. We were told by the doctors office who was told by the patient assistance program set up by DENDREON that all out of pocket charges up to 6,000$ would be paid for by them. Here's where the ass between me and "u" comes into play. We have been gathering and submitting explanation of benefits ( EOB) to our oncologists office and their billing and program assistance person has been submitting them to Dendreons program. Today the bills for the port placement which include scans, labs, outpatient surgery, anesthesia, X-rays, an anesthesiologist, surgeon, radiologist and host of others ARE NOT GOING TO BE COVERED, after we faxed them -made countless phone calls, kept meticulous records of them will not be included. WHY? Well. It seems that Dendreon says that they give assistance ONLY FOR LEUKOPARESIS AMD INFUSIONS AND CHARGES RELATED TO THOSE. I am furious. I phoned the representative and she informed me that Dendreon does not consider a port or vascular access catheter necessary for the leukoparesis or in fusion of Provenge. I told her that was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard and the old method of sticking in and out IVs in both arms for 3 to 4 hours at a time and hoping they remain patent and viable is archaic at best. She informed me they will not pay anything towards the port placement because it isn't necessary. I informed her that since my husbands PSA went from 42 to 143 after Provenge and his chest mets have all increased in size that obviously Provenge doesn't work and for $146,000.00 for all three treatments men should be getting something in return. I am sharing this because I am furious, frustrated and I am wanting others to know that unless you have the money to pay for all the things associated with Provenge treatment, it is a waste of time, money and hope. My husband is now going to start Zytiga which would cost us $8,000.00 out of pocket PER month if we had not already hit the max out of pocket for this year. I have a big mouth and lots of places I run it (this being one) and I assured Kathryn from Dendreon Patient assistance I would be sharing their story of greed and lack of real assistance for patients. I hope this last statement doesn't offend but I am pissed! They are despicable for not really assisting. I would also like to add that the lifespan of a white blood is is 13-20 days and then it is destroyed by the lymphatic system. With that in mind, how does Provenge really help????

    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thank you Deb for sharing your journey with us. Wishing your husband continued success. I appreciate the additional info that you added to keep us better informed.

    • rideinthesidecar2 profile image

      Deborah Freed 

      8 years ago from Virginia Mountains

      Found your Hub while reading info on Blue Cure's page on facebook. The beginning of you and your husband's journey could have been written by me in regards to me and my husband's journey. We too, started out with my hubby's prostate cancer "confined" to the prostate and his PSA was in normal range (1-4). His cancer was found on digital exam. Once he had the prostectomy we were also assured it was "cured" and to just follow up with PSA checks with the urologist every 3 months for a while. That was in 2004. By 2006, PSA began rising, external beam radiation to the pelvic area did nothing except cause extreme fatigue and burns. By early 2007 hormone treatments were started and those given off and on until November of 2011. Hormones work for a while but we have such smart bodies they figure a way around something that suppressed "natural" function so most men become "hormone refractory" as in they don't work any longer, sooner than my hubby. He was lucky to have them work for 4 years. His PSA began rising and CT scans were done to compare to the baseline scans. They were all clear in Dec. and we were getting ready to do Provenge after the first of the year when his PSA surged! At least the oncologist dropped the plan, repeated the scans and found mets to the lungs and chest lymphs that were equal to stage 3 lung cancer!! A biopsy was performed (and lung collapse happens in about 30-40% which it did) and hubby spent 2 days in the hospital while the lung inflated. At first they thought the lung cancer was a separate primary cancer but the biopsy proved it to be prostate cancer and the plan for Provenge was ditched and he was started on Doxetaxel which is the first chemo offered to most prostate cancer patients. Prednisone is added orally on a daily basis as well as along with the chemo. He did remarkable well and had few side effects. The mets did shrink and his PSA dropped and now we are in the holding pattern. Waiting and he is slowly recovering from the chemo. He did well and with the last treatment, "hit the wall" as they call it and it knocked him for a loop! Thank you for posting this information. It is hard to be the spouse of a cancer patient. And, since prostate cancer can be a long journey with lots of new things along the way it is difficult to be kept informed.

    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thank you Conrad for sharing your data. Your resources are always appreciated.

      Studious daughter, I hope your father is doing well. Please keep us posted. I don't have much faith in provenge. We'll never know if it actually worked.

    • profile image

      studious daughter 

      8 years ago

      My father is getting ready to start chemo 8 months post provenge. His PSA kept rising and his oncologist kept saying it's not an accurate way to track the cancer once someone has had provenge. I think it delayed treatment. A coworkers father now has mets that he didn't have pre provenge. I am hoping for the FDA to pull it off the market.

    • conradofontanilla profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      An answer to the question "How could a tumor grow while PSA was still on a record low level?"

      Cancer is caused by free radicals and reactive oxygen species. Conventional doctors ignore or are antagonistic to the concept of free radicals causing disease. Selenium is concentrated in the prostate gland just as coenzyme Q10 is concentrated in the heart, to help the heart produce energy for its non-stop work. So selenium must be in the prostate gland to protect the "seed" of life and perpetuate the species. I have a Hub on how selenium protects the prostate gland. Immunotherapy targets only malignant cells. Chemotherapy destroys both cancerous and healthy cells (Huffman, H. The Melanoma Book).

    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi Auk! I absolutely think you should right a hub! Sharing your journey and offering your opinions would be greatly appreciated by many! Wishing you well..,thank you for your kind words.

    • auktionator profile image


      8 years ago from Zuerich

      I read with great interest your HUB, because I got advanced Postata Cancer myself. Years ago, I went down due a spinal compression due to a tumor. Diagnosis was Prostata Cancer with advanced bone metastasis. The classical medical therapie followd (Zoladex, Zometa, Painkillers aso) The PSA went down from 700 (!) to about 0,08 and stayed there until today. Accidentially, a tumor on the sacred bone was discoverd some months ago, 10 doses of radiation treatment were applied.

      Doctors and me were very intrigued: How could a tumor grow while PSA was still on a record low level? Onco Doctor wanted to apply Chem, I refused. I did not want to exchange a pretty good quality of live with the side effects and suffernings of a Chemo!

      Thus, I injoy life as best as I can, countinuing with the classic therapy. The backside is: The bones affected by metastasis give me pain. From the beginning, Docs prescribed me Oxycodone, a very effective analgesic, supported when needed by a Diclofenac Prep.

      Perhaps I should write a Hub? I am a bit reluctant because of the medical aspects: Giving advice might be problematic. What do you think?

      I wish your husband all the best, keep going on strong :-))

    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi prasetio ... thank you for your well wishes.

      Hi Sharon ... Yes my friend I feel your support, I know you got our back and we thank you:)

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 

      8 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA


      You know I am cheering for you and Dave and wish you the best success with this new treatment. Thanks for sharing your story.


    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      You have valuable information here. I learn many things from you. I believe that you are a good wife who accompany your husband in happy and sorrow. I hope he'll get the best treatment. Never give up and always give him full of support. Send my warm greeting for him. God bless you!


    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thank you for your comments, wishes and thoughts! They are appreciated as is your support :)






    • geegee77 profile image


      8 years ago from The Lone Star State!!

      My thoughts and prayers are with you guys sunshine, I can tell he's a fighter and that's a good thing. Very informative hub great job:) ge

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You'll want to get his immune system built up, up, up! When my late husband had chemo his white blood cell count dropped so low that the treatments were discontinued. This is where our trouble began because the chemo was working. I've heard that yogurt builds up the immune system. Blessings to you and your husband.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      8 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      A fight for love and life and the lesson of a new day breaks miracle and my blessing for many more.;)

    • Cogerson profile image


      8 years ago from Virginia

      A great hub with a positive attitude that will only help in this terrible fight. Thanks for writing a hub that takes us behind the scenes and thanks to Dave for allowing his story to be told here at HubPages....I like the t-shirts he picked for the treatment... Hopefully when Provenge helps Dave get rid of the cancer cells...Provenge will become the leading treatment and maybe chemo will become something of that is not used as much....the chemo was the worst thing my mom went through when she was going through her fight....wishing for some great news from Provenge and Dave....awesome hub.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      8 years ago from Carson City

      You know my thoughts and prayers are always with you and Dave. You are a perfect example of what it means to "fight the good fight," and continue to go forward with hope and strength. This new treatment sounds promising and I trust this will be a success. Bless you and your entire, loving family!

    • Sunshine625 profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thank you Naomi and Will for your well wishes! We appreciate the support.

    • WillStarr profile image


      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Best wishes from another prostate cancer patient. I was diagnosed at 54, and underwent aggressive seed implants.

    • Naomi's Banner profile image

      Naomi's Banner 

      8 years ago from United States

      Very informative and well covered Hub. Tell your husband thanks for allowing the readers to share in his fight of this cancer. I believe he will beat this cancer. Please keep us posted on his progress and thanks for sharing your story.


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