This is excellent news for men: Company says prostate cancer vaccine shows promise

To summarize the findings

those treated with the vaccine lived an average of 4 1/2 months longer than those given dummy treatments. After three years, survival was 34 per cent in the vaccine group and only 11 per cent in the other.

I’m a little suspicious of whether the sample size was large enough but assuming for the moment it was this is very exciting indeed. And it’s exciting for everyone, in a a manner that shows that we’re really missing the boat by not better funding prostate cancer research.

Provenge is not like traditional vaccines that prevent disease. It’s a so-called therapeutic vaccine that treats cancer by training the immune system to fight tumours. If approved, Provenge would be the first such treatment on the market.

“This is an exciting result, demonstrating that harnessing a patient’s own immune system can successfully attack prostate cancer,” said Dr. Eric Small, cancer specialist at the University of California at San Francisco. “Now we have more confidence that the initial results we saw were real.”

Provenge is a treatment that is customized for each patient. Doctors collect specialized cells from each patient’s blood. Those cells help the immune system recognize cancer as a threat, much as it would germs that enter the body.

In other words, in finding a treatment for prostate cancer researchers are in fact embarking on a new paradigm in cancer treatment that could be of even wider applicability.

Here’s another interesting element to the article. When the FDA originally delayed approving the vaccine in question:

The decision sparked protests from men’s groups and cancer advocates because the vaccine did prolong survival, which they considered a more important result.

Men’s groups!? Good to know there are men’s groups out there that are at least readily to mobilize on health issues. Health issues – and the poor funding in men’s health – are undoubtedly one of the leading reasons we need a men’s movement.

For more information on projects to raise money for prostate cancer visit an older post