When it comes to receiving a cancer diagnosis, glioblastoma is one of the most crushing verdicts you could get.
That’s because this particularly aggressive form of cancer shrinks life expectancy to around two years.
That’s exactly what happened to Elizabeth Marek. She was 26 weeks pregnant with her second child when she suddenly started suffering extreme headaches.
She initially figured the pain was just migraines, but given the frequency and severity, she went to the doctor. Result?
“It ended up being a tumor that was the size of my fist on the left side of my brain and it was pushing the left brain into the right brain area.”
The problem was so serious that doctors said she’d have died if she’d waited two weeks longer to visit the hospital.
Emergency surgery removed the tumor and, after waiting eight weeks to give Marek’s unborn baby more time to develop, she started radiation and chemotherapy.
But despite that, a new tumor formed… and that’s when doctors decided to try a highly innovative new treatment.
Zapping Cancer With Electricity
At the University of Washington, St. Louis, oncologist Dr. George Ansstas fitted Marek with a device called Optune.
Developed by Novocure, it’s a backpack that feeds electrodes that are attached to her head. The electrodes carry highly charged particles that create an electric field and attack brain cancer cells. Specifically, they block further division of cancerous cells in the brain.
As Dr. Ansstas explains, “The particles in the cells play a role in division and if you expose those cells to this electro-magnetic field, you might disrupt that process and lead cells to death.”
It works, too.
In clinical trials, the treatment extended patients’ lives by an average of three months. Now, you might not think that’s much, but when you essentially have a death sentence, every moment counts.
Looking at patients two years after diagnosis – right around the end of their average life expectancy – Dr. Ansstas says that “about 43% of those patients [on the electric field treatment] survive.” That’s compared to just 29% with patients who didn’t use the device.
For Marek personally, the results have been even better. She wears the device for 18 hours a day, and after just two weeks, the size of her tumor had shrunk by a whopping 30%.
In addition, the doctors report that there’s no measurable sign of cancer in her brain.
Take a look…
Marek is a true pioneer for this kind of treatment. Up to now, the device has gone through clinical trials, but doctors haven’t yet carried out any longer-term studies on its effectiveness.
But if results continue on their present track, it seems inevitable that this new form of treatment has serious potential.