An Electric Brain Cancer Cure

Glioblastoma treatment with tumor treating electrical fields

(RxWiki News) A new clinical trial has opened up for brain cancer patients with the most advanced and aggressive classification of tumor, glioblastoma multiforme.

Effective therapies for brain cancer have been difficult due to the delicate nature of the brain, and the sheer aggression of glioblastoma multiforme only adds to the challenge.

"Ask your oncologist about tumor treating electrical fields."

The tumor treating field system by the corporation Novocure is in the final stages of the clinical trial series over the last decade, having tested their technology in several clinical trials successfully.

The computerized system of electrodes are placed directly on the skin, and sending a calculated alternating current into the human body.

Unlike the more commonly used direct current (DC), alternating current (AC) is a form of electricity that cannot stop the human heart and is far less dangerous.

The electromagnetic field from the device causes enough interference to prevent the tumor from dividing as rapidly as normal, which is the basis for the majority of other cancer treatments as well.

Other than a mild rash, no side effects have been reported in any of the trials.

Studies on using this electric field technology dating back to 2007 have shown extensive success in laboratory tests on tumors and in animal experiments, furthermore the treatment typically doubled life expectancy in patients with glioblastoma multiforme when compared to control groups.

“Patients with recurrent GBM present a significant treatment challenge,” said Santosh Kesari, MD/PhD, study author and professor of Neuro-oncology at the University of California, San Diego.

“The initial clinical research for the approval trial demonstrated that, compared to patients who were treated with chemotherapy, patients treated with NovoTTF achieved comparable survival times, had fewer side effects, and reported improved quality of life.”

Another study on using the tumor treating electrical fields in advanced stages of inoperable non small cell lung cancer patients had patients use the electrical device for 12 hours a day, together with chemotherapy. Observations from the study in 2011 showed that patients using the electrical field device were correlated with a gain of survival by a third, for an average of 28 rather than 22 weeks.

Similarly, a study performed by Yale in 2007 on brain tumor samples as well as in mice showed average survival increased from 26.1 to 62.2 weeks.

If nothing else, these studies point to a need for extended clinical trials for brain cancer patients with glioblastoma multiforme, where safe options for therapeutic treatment of their cancer are few.

Results from studies on Novocure's tumor treating fields, the NovoTTF-100A System, have been published in both the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, and the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Review Date: 
May 3, 2012