New tool to fight brain cancer - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New tool to fight brain cancer

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Doug Lawrence hopes a new medical device attacks the cancer cells in his brain. The 70-year-old was recently diagnosed with the deadliest form of brain cancer, known as glioblastoma, and given just months to live.

Asked how he deals with the uncertainty, Lawrence said, "You just get up and march ahead. That's how you... You don't have any choice on that."

With few options, Lawrence's children went online and discovered an experimental treatment at USC Norris Cancer Hospital. The Novocure Cap sends electric signals to the cancerous area in the brain, stopping cells from dividing.

"For cancer cells that's very important because they have to divide in order to grow," said Dr. Thomas Chen, a neurology professor at USC.

Lawrence carries a portable power source in a backpack and must wear the cap around the clock. The device needs to be directly on the scalp, so patients have to keep their heads shaved.

About 250 newly diagnosed brain cancer patients have tested the device in combination with a cancer drug. The treatment spares patients the side effects of chemotherapy, but it can irritate the scalp. Previous studies have shown the cap may extend a patient's life a few months.

"I guess it all boils down to your wife, your kids and God," Lawrence said.

So far, the Food and Drug Administration has only approved the device for patients who have had recurrent cases of glioblastoma.

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