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April 29, 2010 (AP) -- A first-of-a-kind prostate cancer treatment that uses the body's immune system to fight the disease received federal approval Thursday, offering an important alternative to more intensive treatments like chemotherapy. Dendreon Corp.'s Provenge vaccine trains the immune system to fight tumors. It's called a "vaccine" even though it treats disease rather than prevents it. Doctors have been trying to develop such a therapy for decades, and Provenge is the first to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration. "The big news here is that this is the first immunotherapy to win approval, and I suspect within five to ten years immunotherapies will be a big part of cancer therapy in general," said Dr. Phil Kantoff, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who helped run the studies of Provenge. Experimental vaccines to treat other cancers - including the deadly skin disease melanoma and an often fatal childhood tumor called neuroblastoma - are already in late-stage development.