Disclaimer: Consult with a doctor before deciding on a treatment plan for cancer or any other disease.

Dendritic Cell Therapy is a type of immunotherapy that alerts the immune system to target cancer cells. Provenge is a Dendritic Cell Therapy that’s FDA-approved to treat prostate cancer patients though patients only survive an additional four months on average. Also, 10% of patients may experience very serious side effects using this treatment modality.


Detailed Information

Dendritic cell therapy is an immunotherapy that helps a patient’s immune system target cancer cells. Dendritic cells are messengers and one of the important tasks they perform in the body is to raise an alarm when they sense the presence of a foreign invader. Dendritic cells activate the immune system by alerting lymphocytes and other cells to the presence of a pathogen [1].


Dendritic cells are found in the skin, inner lining of the nose, stomach, lungs, intestines, and bone marrow. They have the power to sensitize T-cells to invading antigens. Dendritic cells have been used as a healing therapy to treat the following disorders:



Research using dendritic cells has been performed on the following cancer types:


  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Prostate
  • Colorectal
  • Non-small cell lung cancer [1]



Dr. Harmon Eyre, VP of Research at the American Medical Association says this about dendritic cell therapy:


“Patients’ responses are far out of proportion to anything that any current therapy could do.”


But wait…there are other therapies that can do what Provenge can do…and more.


A variety of other very promising immunotherapy options such as RigVir, Burton Immune Augmentation Therapy, Coley Therapy, or the Livingston-Wheeler protocol have had excellent results in their treatment of cancer, but these treatments have not received a blessing from the AMA. On the contrary, few Americans know anything about RigVir or Livingston-Wheeler’s research. Dendritic cell therapy likely holds promise as a treatment that could eclipse the competition profit-wise for big pharmaceutical companies should Americans become privy to the treatments like RigVir that are available in other areas of the world.


Provenge is an FDA approved dendritic cell vaccine produced by Dendreon. It has been approved for use with prostate cancer patients, but it only extends life an average of about 4 months [1][2].


Safety and Effectiveness

There are concerns that the dendritic cells don’t always provoke the desired response in cancer patients. Often, the T-cells don’t respond and if they do, they don’t end up in the lymph nodes where the T-cells could multiply rapidly if they were stimulated. Dr. Steinman of the Rockefeller Institute believes that it would be more beneficial to coax the patient’s own dendritic cells to react to the presence of cancer cells. He does this by making cancer cell vaccines that he uploads into dendritic cells [1].


Clinical trials examining the effects of dendritic cells on cancer have been conducted since the 1990’s, but research has shown that,


“Dendritic cell-based immunotherapy is safe and can induce antitumour immunity, even in patients with advanced disease. However, clinical responses have been disappointing, with classic objective tumour response rates rarely exceeding 15% .“ [4]


A long list of side effects are listed for Provenge, a dendritic cell vaccine prescribed for metastatic prostate cancer. Some web sites that provide information on side effects do not list the rarest, and most serious side effects that occur in 1 out of 10 people. These side effects include serious, life-threatening reactions (stroke). Patients need to be aware that these serious side effects are relatively common and may occur in 10% of the patients who use Provenge for cancer treatment. The potential benefits of this medication, which are only experienced by about 15% of the patients who are given this drug, may not outweigh the potentially negative effects.


How Dendritic Cell Therapy Is Administered

Dendritic cell therapy begins when the patient’s blood is drawn. The treatment requires the blood to be drawn to extract white blood cells. These are used to create a special vaccine tailor-made to fight the patient’s cancer. The white blood cells are grown for 8 days before being administered [1].


Dendritic vaccines are produced by taking the patient’s cancer cells and fusing them to dendritic cells from other human donors. The dendritic cells are cultured with dying tumor cells, RNA from the cancer cell, and antigens before being injected back into the patient’s body [1].


Possible Negative Effects

Provenge (sipuleucel-T), a dendritic cell therapy approved for use in metastatic prostate cancer, can cause the following side effects:


  1. Fever
  2. Chills
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Bronchospasm/Trouble Breathing
  5. Nausea
  6. Vomiting
  7. Loss of Appetite
  8. Fatigue
  9. Hypertension
  10. Increased heart rate
  11. Back pain
  12. Headache
  13. Citrate Toxicity – this happens when calcium and magnesium levels decrease causing blood clotting problems.
  14. Anemia
  15. Decreased oxygen in the blood
  16. Dizziness
  17. Pain
  18. Myalgia
  19. Weakness
  20. Flu-like symptoms
  21. Bloody urine
  22. Excessive sweating
  23. Involuntary quivering
  24. Muscle pain
  25. Muscle spasm
  26. Rash
  27. Pain
  28. Stroke [2][3] 

Other Important Information

Dendritic cell vaccines have been used to treat cancer at the following hospitals:


The Preston Robert Tisch Cancer Center at Duke Medical School in North Carolina


Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California


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[1] CancerActive (2018). A Review on Dendritic Cell Vaccines and Dendritic Cell Therapy: What is it? Retrieved June 4, 2018 from https://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3080&title=Dendritic-cell-vaccines#


[2] Chemocare.com (2002-2018). Provenge. Retrieved June 4, 2018 from http://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/drug-info/Provenge.aspx


[3] WebMD (2018). Provenge Plastic Bag, Injection Side Effects by Likelihood and Severity. Retrieved June 4, 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-154115/provenge-intravenous/details/list-sideeffects


[4] Anguille, S., Smits, E. L., Lion, E., van Tendeloo, V. F., Berneman, Z. N. (2014). Clinical use of dendritic cells for cancer therapy. Retrieved June 4, 2018 from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(13)70585-0/abstract