New treatment using electrodes to disrupt and kill brain cancer cells

CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - A futuristic new device is helping some patients with brain cancer.

The "Optune" is comprised of arrays of electrodes which are placed on patients' heads to provide alternating electric fields. The electric fields make it hard or even impossible for cancer cells to reproduce.

"Tumor cells have a lot of polarized molecules and they will arrange to the direction of the field," explains neuro-oncologist Dr. Roger Stupp of Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. "If you change the field, they have to adapt. If you do that at a certain frequency, this will ultimately disrupt cell division."

Joyce Endreson was diagnosed with brain cancer in December 2014. She went through 101 days of chemo and 30 radiation treatments before she started treatment with the Optune. She said she was looking for something that would allow her to lead a normal life.

"I had a desire to not take drugs and try to keep the tumors away without a lot of side effects," she said. "We initially found out about the Optune immediately after I was diagnosed."

Dr. Stupp said the Optune has been tested on hundreds of patients.

"It's not a last resort option, it's a first resort option," Dr. Stupp said.

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