Physicians' Clinic of Iowa–Hematology & Oncology on a breakthrough cancer therapy

Local Men Are Among First in Iowa to Receive Breakthrough Cancer Therapy

Men living with advanced prostate cancer now have an innovative treatment option new to Iowa, and now at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa—Hematology & Oncology.

Courtesy Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa—Hematology & Oncology, Linn County LIVING WELL Magazine

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in the U.S. and the third most common cancer worldwide. More than two million men in the U.S. have prostate cancer, with an estimated 217,730 new cases and approximately 32,050 men expected to die from the disease in 2010.

A Cedar Rapids patient of Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa—Hematology & Oncology recently became one of the first clinics to administer a groundbreaking cancer treatment. Recognized as “clinical investigators” by the National Cancer Institute, PCI oncologists continue to focus on new ways to deliver better results.  Dr. Thomas Warren, oncologist with Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa—Hematology & Oncology says, “The mission of the oncologist is to build hope for the patient. Having a diagnosis of cancer is a frightening experience and we are there to build confidence and trust. We will be a part of that patient’s experience for the rest of their lives, and guide them through the process of healing.”

The practice is among the first sites in the nation, and the very first in Iowa, to offer PROVENGE®. PROVENGE is a new vaccine for the treatment of eligible men with advanced prostate cancer that is designed to work differently from traditional hormone therapy or chemotherapy.

Dr. Warren is excited to offer the PROVENGE treatment at PCI because it means another line of defense in the fight of cancer. “Cancer is not a destination, it is a journey. You need a guide, we are your guide, and it is very much a team effort.”

The ideal recipient of the PROVENGE has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, explored surgical removal, hormone therapy, but find that the cancer is still progressing. However, treatment has not yet progressed to needing chemotherapy infusion.

Because PROVENGE uses cells from your own immune system to target prostate cancer cells, you may hear it called a cancer vaccine or similar name. Cancer treatments known as vaccines are meant to treat existing cancers by strengthening the body’s natural defenses against the cancer and are not preventive vaccines.

PROVENGE is the only prostate cancer immunotherapy to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Even though the body’s immune system works to defend against infection and disease, sometimes cancer cells can “hide” from the immune system. What makes this treatment so unique is that each dose of PROVENGE is completely personalized to consist of the individual’s own immune cells, dendritic cells. The dendritic cells are combined with the proteins of the cancer cells. This activates the dendritic cells to identify and attack prostate cancer cells. It is the first in a new class of therapy to use this approach.

The collection process, a procedure called leukapheresis, takes about three to four hours and is done for each of the patient’s three doses.  Once these immune cells are collected, they are combined with a protein that is found in most prostate cancers linked to an immune stimulating agent. The combination of your immune cells and this protein is what makes the active component of the dose of PROVENGE.

The doses are given two weeks apart and take just minutes to administer. Following treatment, the patient’s progress is tracked through regular monitoring with blood work correlating with bone scans. Dr. Warren says that the side effects are very minimal, “The benefit of this treatment is that the toxicity is low. The patient may experience a fever the night of the vaccination, just like when you get any other type of vaccination. The vaccine has been proven to extend the life of eligible patients with spread prostate cancer.”

“Our goal is for the patient to live longer and to maintain quality of life. PROVENGE offers a treatment that can offer both,” says Warren. Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa––Hematology & Oncology will be collaborating with other doctors and support providers in the development and use of this type of treatment as part of the new Cedar Rapids Community Cancer Center.  The Community Cancer Center will be located in the Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Medical Pavilion expected to open in January 2013.

Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa, founded in Cedar Rapids in 1997, is one of the largest, private, multispecialty medical groups in Iowa. More than 75 physicians, surgeons, and mid-level providers offer high quality medical care to eastern Iowa communities.

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Individuals interested in learning whether PROVENGE is an appropriate treatment option should contact Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa—Hematology & Oncology at 319-297-2900. Full prescribing information for PROVENGE can be found at