A headpiece called Optune has been developed which could help fight brain cancer.
Cancer patient Joyce Endresen has been testing the new therapy.
In December 2014 Joyce was diagnosed with glioblastoma (GBM), a tumour which grows on glial cells and is one of the most common brain cancers in adults.
Cancers cause cells to divide rapidly, and this is what causes tumours such as Joyce’s to grow. The Optune works by creating low-intensity electric fields which slow or stop glioblastoma cancer cells from dividing – even possibly causing some to die.
These Tumour Treating Fields (TTFields) do not disrupt healthy resting cells in the brain and are focused entirely upon the affected area, without entering the bloodstream and damaging other areas of the body as chemotherapy does. The company which created the treatment said the most common adverse affect seen from Optune was scalp irritation and headache.
The TTFields are delivered to the brain via four adhesive patches called transducer arrays which are powered by a battery and stuck in a specific alignment to the head depending on where the tumour is in the patient’s brain.
Optune’s creator Novocure recommends the patches are used for at least 18 hours a day to see the desired effect – increased life expectancy.
Although the treatment isn’t a cure, Roger Stupp, of Northwestern University in the US, said median survival was increased from 16 months to 21 months.
Meanwhile, the results were even more positive when using a combination of Optune and temozolomide chemotherapy.
“When I started treating patients with GBM 20 years ago, the majority of patients died within less than one year and long-term survival was nearly absent,” Stupp said.
“With the combination of Optune and temozolomide, one out of seven patients is living longer than five years.”