Friday, March 30, 2007
Medical Reports: HEALTHCAST: Brain Cancer
A new clinical trial is proving that electrical charges can kill cancer cells. Seven's Christine Cruz shows us the device that's bringing hope to brain cancer victims across the country.
WSVN -- Silvia Torres remembers the first day she met her husband Daniel.
Silvia Torres: "It's like, uh, magic."
Fourteen years later and with four children their love is still strong -- even through the toughest times.
Silvia Torres: "Thanks, God, because you gave us one more day."
And days count because, three years ago, Daniel was diagnosed with glioblastoma, one of the most common and deadliest kinds of brain cancer.
Most patients die within two to three years of treatment.
Dr. Herbert Engelhard: "Can you give me a squeeze."
Since then, Daniel's had three surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, but nothing has stopped the growth of his tumors.
As a last resort, he enrolled in a study where doctors are looking at the effects of electrical fields on brain tumors.
Dr. Herbert Engelhard: "It seems like science fiction, but, really, there's a lot of science fact behind it."
Here's how it works: A cap with 36 electrodes is strategically placed on the patient's head, focusing on the tumor mass. The cap is then connected to a battery pack, and, when turned on, it creates an electrical field. The cap must be worn at least 22 hours a day.
Dr. Herbert Engelhard: "They found, in dividing cells, that if these electrical fields were applied right at the point where they're pinching off, they break. The tumor cells break, kind of explode."
Essentially, destroying the cells of the tumors.
European studies show that patients undergoing the treatment are living at least six months longer than expected.
Daniel Torres: "It gives me a lot of hope."
And the Torres family is thankful for every minute extra they get.
Silvia Torres: "It's a new opportunity -- a new chance for my husband's life."
Christine Cruz: "The trial is being practiced in 11 centers across the U.S. and seven more in Europe. So far, the only side effect is skin irritation due to the electrical cap."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago