For a couple of years I have been anticipating taking Provenge immunotherapy as my next treatment. Now that I have a new oncologist, after a relocation, I am told that the University of Rochester Medical Center will not do the leukapheresis (separating the white blood cells from the rest of my blood) necessary for the treatment as it would be a conflict of interest!
They will infuse the white blood cells back into my body once they have been sensitized to PC, but I have to go to the Red Cross in either Syracuse or Buffalo for the 3 hour leukapheresis. Provenge therapy is offered by numerous private oncologists in Rochester and I can't believe they all require their patients to drive at least an hour each way for the leukapheresis part.
My oncologist's nurse was completely flummoxed when she told me about this impediment to URMC PC patients receiving Provenge therapy.
This is especially bizarre because URMC has an entire department devoted to immunology research albeit focused on, it appears, pancreatic cancer, melanoma and breast cancer. But the first stage of immunotherapy is always leukapheresis, so that procedure is done at URMC.
This situation seems wholly unethical to me, to make proven life extending, low impact, therapy difficult to obtain. I will ask my oncologist for a referral to a local who offers Provenge locally but I'm not very optimistic that he will be able to do that.
Done with rant. Needed to get this off my chest.