FDA approves new vaccine for prostate cancer

(NBC) - The fight against cancer just got a new weapon.  The FDA has approved a vaccine for prostate cancer.

Though it is called a vaccine, Provenge is actually a treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer. It doesn't prevent the disease, but it does do something that scientists have been trying to achieve for decades - harnessing the body's immune system to fight cancer.

This is the first success.

Lynn Bender was the last of the 512 men to enroll in the study that led to FDA approval.  He just got his last treatment today.

"As of this morning, I would say it's a success.  I woke up today feeling the best that I had felt probably in three or four months," Bender said.

In a three year period, on average, men getting the vaccine survived just over four months longer than those not getting it.

All the volunteers had very advanced cancer, and experts say if the treatment is given earlier in the disease, the survival benefit could be greater.

More than $90,000 a patient for the three doses.  The cost is steep because it is taylor made to each person with his own white blood cells.

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