The body's immune system is the defense against all types of illnesses, including cancer, yet cancer cells can also hide from a person's immune system. Provenge, a new treatment available at Stamford Hospital, is designed to stimulate immune cells against prostate cancer, ultimately helping a patient's immune system fight the disease.

Provenge is most widely used for men with advanced prostate cancer but who are still relatively healthy. It is the only approved treatment shown to extend median survival beyond two years, in some patients.

Each dose consists of the patient's own immune cells which have been activated by a genetically engineered substance that encourages an immune response. This process stimulates the natural ability of immune cells already in the patient's blood, potentially helping him to live longer.

"Provenge is a significant advance in the treatment of prostate cancer. Since it is neither hormonal therapy nor chemotherapy, it avoids the side effects usually associated with those treatments," said Dr. Frank Masino, medical director of Cancer Services at Stamford Hospital. "The treatment actually uses the patient's own immune system to fight the cancer and extends patient survival as a result."

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Stamford Hospital's comprehensive prostate cancer program offers a wide variety of options to patients. Another weapon in the Hospital's Bennett Cancer Center arsenal, Provenge complements the other treatments offered to the center's patients.

Based on physician guidance, the umbrella of options includes: active surveillance, Da Vinci robotic surgery, radioactive seed implant, intensity modulated image guided radiation therapy, CyberKnife stereotactic radiotherapy chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Some patients may be able to participate in clinical trials.

In addition to receiving the highest level of clinical care, a range of personalized and family-centered support options are available to the Cancer Center's patients. This includes integrative medicine programs, individual and family counseling, health and prevention programs, survivorship programs and palliative and hospice care.

For more information about Provenge and the comprehensive cancer treatment offered at the Bennett Cancer Center, visit www.stamfordhospitalcancer.com.

Stamford Hospital is a not-for-profit provider of comprehensive healthcare services in lower Fairfield County and the region. The mission of Stamford Hospital is to provide, together with its physicians, a broad range of high quality health and wellness services focused on the needs of our communities. Stamford Hospital is a member of the Planetree Alliance, a group of hospitals nationwide focused on patient-centered care. Stamford Hospital is affiliated with New York Presbyterian Health System and is a major teaching affiliate of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.