Brain Tumor Treatment, On-the-Go

Illustration for article titled Brain Tumor Treatment, On-the-Go

In today's active, time-constrained world, even tumor patients don't have time for treatment. What to do? Wear this: The NovoTTF-100A. It's portable, cancer zapping headgear and it just got FDA approved.

It's not for every patient, as it only targets GBM (or glioblastoma multiforme), but in testing it displayed a knack for stopping or even reducing tumor growth in the brain. Recent tests apparently had the same effect as chemotherapy—without all the associated nasty side effects of that treatment route.

Patients must wear the headgear all the live day for it to be effective, but come on—goofy headgear or deadly, inoperable brain cancer? Tough choice. [Novacure via Engadget]

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DISCUSSION

Chemotherapy has improved dramatically in the past few years, on par with radiation, but it is a game buying time. This brings yet another option which is sorely needed since breaking the brain barrier is problematic. Some forms of chemo (Temodar - TMZ, but not the web site) are actually not terrible, but their effectiveness is different depending on the cellular structure of the individual and only eliminates a certain percentage of tumor cells. There are others that are more effective but have nasty side effects, think blood being released into the skull with nowhere to go, so they are used in extreme cases.

This is an exciting additional tool but the fact that it is only available for GBM patients shows it currently has limited potential and they have not seen improvement on those in level III - so Astrocytoma losers will just look forward to the day when we can match this with our current clothing ensemble. (Level III patients living long enough may eventually have cells reach IV/GBM.) That said, each new option is moving us forward one exciting step at a time. We are still a long way off from a cure but anything that buys us more time can give us hope that we will live long enough to see it.

Note that less than 5% of GBM patients live 5 years. This has been used in conjunction with brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in various clinical trials with mixed results.