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Posts Tagged ‘immune system’

URO TODAY: An experiment that combines a standard advanced prostate cancer drug treatment with a vaccine to assist the immune system has just begun in the US. READ MORE>

Looking to harness the body’s own immune system to target prostate cancer that has spread to the bones (metastatic) and is unresponsive to standard treatment, investigators have just launched a clinical trial combining vaccine and radiation drug therapy.

The goal is to see if disease progression will be further delayed by adding two different experimental injections to the standard treatment.

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URO TODAY: Researchers have discovered that prostate tumours in mice can cause immune cells known as CD8+ T cells to change to cells that suppress immune responses. READ MORE>

This finding, by researchers at the US National Cancer Institute, has important implications for the design of immune-based therapies for cancer.

Future work by this team will focus on defining the mechanisms by which  gain their suppressive functions.

“This will enhance our ability to generate more effective anti-tumor T cell responses in mice, which then might be translated to human.”

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WCVBTV5: Researchers are optimistic about Provenge, a new way of treating prostate cancer that would help the body’s own immune system to attack tumors once they have developed. Researchers at a number of institutions, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, are working on similar vaccine treatments. READ MORE>

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WatsonPROSTABLOG NZ: A leading NZ scientist has discovered a novel compound he believes will suppress the prostate cancer that is killing him.

Dr James Watson (right) – a former professor at the University of California, now back in NZ – discovered too late he has advanced cancer, so has embarked (with a fellow Kiwi scientist, who also has advanced prostate cancer) on a research project to stop his deadly disease.

He believes he has identified a treatment that will stimulate his immune system to fight the cancer, which has spread beyond his prostate.

He has decided to test the compound on himself, with the assistance of another eminent Auckland medical specialist.

His quest is driven partly by the altruism of finding a viable treatment for all men whose prostate cancer moves to a stage that defies treatment, and partly by his anger at not being diagnosed early when the disease could have been treated easily.

He saw several GPs before one offered him a PSA test, by which time his level was a lethal 987.

He and colleague Dr Richard Forster, an expert on immunology and plant biology, have set up a company to develop their discoveries.

They revealed their progress at the annual conference of the NZ Prostate Cancer Foundation in Napier.

READ MORE>

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JULY 28: PROSTABLOG NZ: When you go out into the sun and get all that beneficial Vitamin D on your skin – don’t go home and wash it off in the shower, says top NZ immunology scientist Dr Richard Forster.

Dr Forster – who is working with eminent colleague Dr Jim Watson on treatment for advanced prostate cancer that harnesses the body’s immune system – says lack of Vitamin D (from the sun) is linked to prostate cancer.

Men have more chance of contracting the disease the further away they live from the Equator.

We must get some sun exposure every day, if we can manage it, and ensure we don’t wash it off before the Vitamin D is absorbed, he told the Prostate Cancer Foundation of NZ annual conference in Napier last weekend. Absorption takes time.

Watch this website for a full report soon of what the two scientists say about avoiding and treating prostate cancer.

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JUNE 5:  US NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE: Treatment vaccines that boost the immune system’s response to tumours may have important clinical benefits for patients with various types of cancer, according to results from several clinical trials presented at the 2009 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Orlando. READ MORE>

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JUNE 2; AQP: First there was surgery, then chemotherapy and radiation. Now, doctors have overcome 30 years of false starts and found success with a fourth way to fight cancer: using the body’s natural defender, the immune system. READ MORE>

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PART 17 of My PC Adventure (see full story HERE> )

Am I cured of prostate cancer?

I don’t know. The signs are already good, but I’ll just have to wait. I’m officially in limbo for the next 17 weeks.

I have no further appointments with the medical profession until late August, when I need to get a PSA blood test and then a few days later have a followup visit with the surgeon. Then we’ll know more.

It seems the magic “c” word is elusive. My prognosis is good, excellent even, but saying I’m cured is simply not possible, because this is a very complicated business.

About 30% of men who have a radical prostatectomy like I did will have what the profession calls “biochemical recurrence”.

Here’s the US Cancer Institute’s explanation of what that means:

A rise in the blood level of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) in prostate cancer patients after treatment with surgery or radiation. Biochemical recurrence may occur in patients who do not have symptoms. It may mean that the cancer has come back. Also called biochemical relapse and PSA failure.

How likely am I to be among the 30%?

Highly unlikely, it would seem. The reason is the cancer in my prostate was caught early, before it had time to surface at any of the margins of the organ, which is the bad thing that can happen as the cancer grows.

Once there are “marginals”, there is the chance of the tumour spreading into lymph nodes and the nearby seminal vesicles.

Here’s how MedicineNet.com defines seminal vesicles:

Seminal vesicle: A structure in the male that is about 5 centimeters (2 inches) long and is located behind the bladder and above the prostate gland. The seminal vesicles contribute fluid to the ejaculate.

Wikipedia says this about lymph nodes:

A Lymph node…is an organ consisting of many types of cells, and is a part of the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes are found all through the body, and act as filters or traps for foreign particles. They contain white blood cells. Thus they are important in the proper functioning of the immune system.

So, if you get cancer into nearby parts of the body like the vesicles or into the lymph system – and thereby spread through the body – the chances of advanced cancer increase.

There are drug and radiotherapy treatments for such eventualities, but the chances of long-term cure are proportionately lower.

Why am I waiting 17 weeks for the PSA test, and why is it done after the cancerous prostate has been removed?

To rehearse some earlier facts from my case, my PSA levels have never been high. The test prior to diagnosis showed .77, when up to 4 or 5 would have been acceptable for my age.

I have a friend whose PSA has been rising and is now about 20, but three biopsies have failed to find any sign of cancer. In my case, low PSA did not mean I did not have cancer (I did).

The wait is to allow my system to settle down, since surgical intervention can release the antigens into the system and temporarily raise the PSA in a way that is not helpful to diagnosis.

After five months (the operation was on March 25), that all should have settled down and an accurate reading should be possible.

What are we hoping for? Well, a nil result. Zilch. That would mean no biochemical recurrence…and no cancer.

The other thing in my favour is the low Gleason grade given to my tumour: at 6/10 it is the lowest meaningful result used. That means the cancer was of a low aggression type. It would have taken years to migrate out of the prostate.

So. I’m hopeful of the nearest thing to a cure you can get.

No doubt I’ll need to continue with the PSA tests for a few years just to be sure. Biochemical recurrence can occur some time after surgery. But in my case, it seems unlikely.

Here’s hoping…

A recent web item said spouses and partners end up more worried about cancer recurrence than the patients. So it’s time to find out what Lin thinks of all this.

NEXT: Another side to the story

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WEB-MED: Using gene therapy, researchers have re-educated patients’ own immune systems to attack prostate tumors in the body. In the first two patients treated, the experimental treatment reduced PSA levels by 50% to 75%. READ MORE>

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REUTERS:  OFFICIAL  approval is a step closer in the US for the first cancer immunotherapy –  a drug to fight cancer by stimulating the immune system to attack cancer cells – after the latest trials on more than 500 men with late-stage prostate cancer. READ MORE>

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