Saturday, August 11, 2007

Electricity to Zap Cancer Cells

Twelve major hospitals are testing a "noninvasive device that generates electrical fields of a certain strength that, it's hoped, will kill cancer cells but not normal brain tissues" on patients with the deadliest form of brain cancer, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

This procedure is based on the fact that cells are most vulnerable to electromagnetic fields when they're dividing and cancer cells divide rapidly as opposed to brain cells which divide very infrequently, if at all.

Unlike chemotherapy and radiation therapy commonly used to treat cancer today, this treatment has shown minimal toxicity.

"We've been very happy to find that there is minimal toxicity-- of course we all know about the possible bad side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy," he says. "And so far this new type of treatment has been found to be very safe. And what the study is doing is looking to see whether or not it's effective. There's no cutting, there's no drugs involved at all, it's very simple, almost too simple,"

"We're putting electrodes on someone's head, we're putting an electric field through that, and that electric field is killing cancer cells."

-- Herb Engelhard, Neuro-oncologist

Hopefully, people with this insidious type of brain cancer, will have this treatment available as an option very soon...these patients do not have much to lose and everything to gain without the pain and danger of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

"It might show up on the MRI scan as a circle or a ball, but really, by the time it's seen on the MRI scan, individual cells have gone deep into the brain. So glioblastoma multiforme is really cancer of the brain, and it's very, very difficult to treat," he says. "Once the tumor does not respond to radiation therapy and chemotherapy-- because surgery can't remove it all-- then one does have a very short time left on average."

-- Herb Engelhard, Neuro-oncologist

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