Hi-tech hat blasts brain tumors - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Hi-tech hat blasts brain tumors

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(12/12/12) - A new high-tech cap is helping prevent brain tumors from growing, and may even shrink some of them.
Beach volleyball, surfing, skiing, are all sports Reggie Chan loves. In fact, until a year ago, Reggie would ride his bike 15 miles to work and 15 miles back.  

But, that all ended dramatically one morning. "I woke up and felt my left foot was kind of still asleep."

Reggie was feeling the effects of a deadly brain tumor, called glioblastoma and it all started with a headache.

"Right then and there I knew our lives were changed forever," says his wife, Laurie.

Most patients with gioblastoma only live about a year after diagnosis, says Dr. Maciej M. Mrugala of the University of Washington. "The tumor sort of infiltrates a healthy brain and that's why it's so difficult to remove completely."

Mrugala and his colleagues are some of the first to use a newly FDA approved cap, called T.T. Fields, to help kill the cancer. A battery pack fuels the electrodes built into the cap, which patients wear on their heads. At the right intensity, the electricity stops the cancer cells from growing, even kills them.  

Reggie says he has been wearing the cap all day long, every day for the past four weeks. "Actually it's working, the tumor has shrunk again."

Even though the electrical fields can shrink tumors, they do not appear to hurt healthy cells. Early studies also show there are no other serious side effects with the cap.

Right now, TTF therapy is only being used for patients whose tumors have re-grown, but clinical trials are beginning for newly diagnosed patients.

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