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DESCRIPTIONProstate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American men, with an estimated incidence of 220,800 cases and an estimated number of 27,540 deaths in 2015. In most cases, prostate cancer is diagnosed at a localized stage and are treated with prostatectomy or radiotherapy. However, some patients are diagnosed with metastatic disease or recurrent disease after treatment of localized disease. Androgen ablation is the standard treatment for metastatic or recurrent disease. Most patients who survive long enough eventually develop androgen-independent prostate cancer. At this stage of metastatic disease, docetaxel, a chemotherapeutic agent, has been demonstrated to confer a survival benefit of 1.9 to 2.4 months in randomized clinical trials. Chemotherapy with docetaxel causes adverse effects in large proportions of patients, including alopecia, fatigue, neutropenia, neuropathy, and other symptoms. Trials evaluating docetaxel included both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients, and results suggest a survival benefit for both groups. Because of the burden of treatment and its side effects, most patients therefore defer docetaxel treatment until cancer recurrence is symptomatic.
Cancer immunotherapy has been investigated as a treatment which could potentially be instituted at the point of detection of androgen-independent metastatic disease before significant symptomatic manifestations have occurred. The quantity of cancer cells in the patient during this time is thought to be relatively low, and it is thought that an effective immune response against the cancer during this interval could effectively delay or prevent progression. Such a delay could allow a course of effective chemotherapy, such as docetaxel, to be deferred or delayed until necessary, thus providing an overall survival benefit.
Sipuleucel-T (Provenge®, Dendreon Corp.) is a new class of therapeutic agent used in the treatment of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic, androgen-independent (castration-resistant), metastatic prostate cancer. The agent comprises specially treated dendritic cells obtained from the patient through leukapheresis. The cells are then exposed in vitro to proteins that contain prostate antigens and immunologic stimulating factors and are then reinfused back into the patient. At reinfusion, the cells are administered as 3 intravenous infusions given approximately 2 weeks apart. The proposed mechanism of action is that the treatment stimulates the patient’s own immune system to resist spread of the cancer.
On April 29, 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Provenge® (sipuleucel-T, Dendreon Corp., Seattle, WA) via a Biologics Licensing Application (BLA) for "the treatment of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic castrate resistant (hormone refractory) prostate cancer (for autologous use only)." Approval was contingent on agreement of the manufacturer to conduct a postmarketing study, based on a registry design, to assess the risk of cerebrovascular events in 1,500 men with prostate cancer who receive sipuleucel-T.
Also, see the Gene-Based Tests for Screening, Detection and/or Management of Prostate Cancer medical policy.
POLICYSipuleucel-T therapy (Provenge®) may be considered medically necessary in the treatment of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic, androgen-independent (castration-resistant) metastatic prostate cancer.
Sipuleucel-T therapy (Provenge®) is considered investigational in all other situations, including but not limited to treatment of hormone-responsive prostate cancer, treatment of those with moderate to severe symptomatic metastatic prostate cancer, and treatment of visceral (liver, lung or brain) metastases.
POLICY EXCEPTIONSFederal Employee Program (FEP) may dictate that all FDA-approved devices, drugs or biologics may not be considered investigational and thus these devices may be assessed only on the basis of their medical necessity.
POLICY GUIDELINESThe use of either chemotherapy or immunosuppressive agents (such as systemic corticosteroids) given at the same time with the leukapheresis procedure for Provenge® has not been studied. Provenge® is designed to stimulate the immune system, and using immunosuppressive agents at the same time may alter the effectiveness and/or safety of Provenge®. Therefore, patients should be carefully evaluated to determine whether it is medically appropriate to reduce or discontinue immunosuppressive agents prior to treatment with Provenge®.
Medically Necessary is defined as those services, treatments, procedures, equipment, drugs, devices, items or supplies furnished by a covered Provider that are required to identify or treat a Member's illness, injury or Nervous/Mental Conditions, and which Company determines are covered under this Benefit Plan based on the criteria as follows in A through D:
A. consistent with the symptoms or diagnosis and treatment of the Member's condition, illness, or injury; and
B. appropriate with regard to standards of good medical practice; and
C. not solely for the convenience of the Member, his or her Provider; and
D. the most appropriate supply or level of care which can safely be provided to Member. When applied to the care of an Inpatient, it further means that services for the Member's medical symptoms or conditions require that the services cannot be safely provided to the Member as an Outpatient.
For the definition of Medically Necessary, “standards of good medical practice” means standards that are based on credible scientific evidence published in peer-reviewed medical literature generally recognized by the relevant medical community, and physician specialty society recommendations, and the views of medical practitioners practicing in relevant clinical areas and any other relevant factors. BCBSMS makes no payment for services, treatments, procedures, equipment, drugs, devices, items or supplies which are not documented to be Medically Necessary. The fact that a Physician or other Provider has prescribed, ordered, recommended, or approved a service or supply does not in itself, make it Medically Necessary.
Investigative is defined as the use of any treatment procedure, facility, equipment, drug, device, or supply not yet recognized as a generally accepted standard of good medical practice for the treatment of the condition being treated and; therefore, is not considered medically necessary. For the definition of Investigative, “generally accepted standards of medical practice” means standards that are based on credible scientific evidence published in peer-reviewed medical literature generally recognized by the relevant medical community, and physician specialty society recommendations, and the views of medical practitioners practicing in relevant clinical areas and any other relevant factors. In order for equipment, devices, drugs or supplies [i.e, technologies], to be considered not investigative, the technology must have final approval from the appropriate governmental bodies, and scientific evidence must permit conclusions concerning the effect of the technology on health outcomes, and the technology must improve the net health outcome, and the technology must be as beneficial as any established alternative and the improvement must be attainable outside the testing/investigational setting.
The coverage guidelines outlined in the Medical Policy Manual should not be used in lieu of the Member's specific benefit plan language.
POLICY HISTORY07/22/2010: Approved by Medical Policy Advisory Committee
09/28/2011: Policy reviewed; no changes.
09/27/2012: Policy reviewed; no changes.
05/07/2013: Added HCPCS code Q2043 to the Code Reference section.
11/06/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes.
09/04/2014: Policy reviewed; description updated. Investigational policy statement revised to change "those with" to "treatment of." Intent of policy statement unchanged.
08/26/2015: Medical policy revised to add ICD-10 codes.
10/27/2015: Policy description updated regarding estimated data for 2015. Medically necessary policy statement updated to change "hormone-refractory" to "castration-resistant." Policy guidelines updated to add medically necessary and investigative definitions.
05/26/2016: Policy number added.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 8.01.53
(Provenge®) Prescribing Information
www.fda.gov - Provenge® Questions and Answers
CODE REFERENCEThis may not be a comprehensive list of procedure codes applicable to this policy.
The code(s) listed below are ONLY medically necessary if the procedure is performed according to the "Policy" section of this document.