New Immune Cell Collection Center Opens In Panama City

New cell collection (or apheresis) center re-opens in Panama City after Hurricane Michael.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Men with advanced prostate cancer in the greater Panama City area now have greater access to immunotherapy treatment thanks to a new cell collection (or apheresis) in the Florida panhandle. Men prescribed immunotherapy for advanced prostate cancer need to visit a cell collection center to have their cells extracted – a critical part of delivering a treatment that is customized for each person.

Nearly 13,000 men in Florida are living with prostate cancer, including an estimated 127 men from Bay County alone. Men with prostate cancer often survive 15 years or longer after learning they have the disease, but prostate cancer remains one of the five most common cancers and the second most frequent cause of cancer-related death among men.

A number of new treatment options, including anti-androgen therapy, radiopharmaceuticals, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, show new promise for men in the advanced stages of the disease – those whose cancer recurs after radiation or surgery.

Among these, immunotherapy is one of the most exciting categories of cancer treatments and works differently than other treatments. It is a truly “personalized” medicine that uses a patient’s own cells to stimulate the body’s immune system to target and attack the prostate cancer cells. Studies show that treatment with immunotherapy may extend life for men with advanced prostate cancer.

“Having a local cell collection center nearby will make it easier for men in Panama City and the surrounding areas to take advantage of life-extending immunotherapy treatment,” said Dr. Carlos Ramos, an advanced prostate cancer specialist at Advanced Urology Institute in Panama City, Fl. “In the past some men skipped treatment altogether rather than travel long distances to the next nearest cell collection center.”

The apheresis center is staffed by medical professionals, who have been specially trained to perform the cell collection procedure. The center first launched in September 2018 and has returned to the community at a new site after recovering from Hurricane Michael.

For more information about advanced prostate cancer and how to schedule a personalized immunotherapy treatment, please talk with your doctor.

1. National Cancer Institute. Incidence Rate Report for Florida by County, Prostate, 2011-2015.

2. National Cancer Institute. Common Cancer Sites – Cancer Stat Facts. Published 2018.

3. Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2018. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018;68(1):7-30. doi:10.3322/caac.21442

4. Prostate Cancer Foundation. Choosing a Treatment Option – PCF.

5. Prostate Cancer Foundation. Immunotherapy for Prostate Cancer – PCF.

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