A new “wearable” device being tested to suppress brain-cancer cell growth in patients ended its clinical trials early with positive results. Optune is a battery powered device researchers claim will extend the life of a patient with “newly diagnosed glioblastoma” when it is paired with traditional temozolomide chemotherapy. Researches were confident enough in its effectiveness to end the clinical trials (which ran from July 2009 to November 2014) of the device early. The device is likely not “the cure for cancer,” but it is a step forward in extending the life expectancy of brain-cancer patients and more research will be needed to see if it may be effective on other forms of cancer.
“With this new data, it appears the tumor-treating fields should be used upfront and become a standard of care. We should add this modality to what we’re currently doing for our patients,” said Dr. Maciej Mrugala, a brain-cancer specialist who led UW Medicine’s participation in the clinical trial.
“You get almost five months’ survival benefit. It may not sound like a lot, but if you’re living with this diagnosis, this is a meaningful improvement,” said Mrugala. UW Medicine was one of the first 15 U.S. providers to employ the novel tumor-treating therapy; now there are more than 200.
Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common primary brain tumor and a highly aggressive cancer. The Optune device, manufactured by Novocure, disrupts cancer-cell reproduction by sending alternating positive and negative charges between small ceramic discs embedded in on four sides of the mesh cap.
As with any medical research and new technology, even with the extensive time already invested, there will have to be more research and testing and even then, this is likely not a cure as much as it is preventative maintenance, as was said before. The Optune seems like a great step forward and certainly a worthwhile shot to try, when available.
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