New helmet zaps childhood cancer – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth


About 13,000 Americans will be diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2022 and 10,000 people with glioblastoma will die. Now neuro-oncologists are testing a helmet-like device for treating tumors in pediatric patients. It was designed to stop cancer cells from dividing and regaining a foothold.

Ivan Galeano was with his mother when the normally healthy teenager felt his left pinky go numb.

“And from there it spread to the hand and arm,” Ivan said.

“I thought at first it was like a heart attack. He thought it was a heart attack. So he started screaming,” said Ivan’s mother, Vicmarie Del Valle.

Ivan was taken to a nearby hospital. The doctors determined that it was not a heart attack. It was an attack. Then an MRI found something else.

“It was like a shadow on the right side of my brain,” Ivan said.

Doctors diagnosed Ivan with glioblastoma, or GBM, an aggressive brain tumor.

“Now we’re facing this monster and we’re going to do whatever it takes to get rid of it,” Del Valle said.

GBM treatment is difficult.

“Glioblastoma always leaves tumor cells behind, and that makes it particularly difficult for us to know that even if we remove the entire tumor, it’s not all over,” said Derek Hanson, MD of Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital.

For this reason, Dr. Hanson is trying a treatment that shows promise in adults but is not yet approved for use in children. A special device called an Optune that is worn on the head and has four electrodes attached to the scalp.

“And these four leads send electrical signals, called tumor treatment fields, into the brain that are aimed at the tumor,” Hanson said.

Patients do not feel the signals that disrupt the growth of cancer cells. They wear the 2-pound cap 18 hours a day, even while they sleep.

“I’ll just take care of whatever I need to do,” Ivan said.

So far the experimental treatment is working.

“So they haven’t happened since Ivan had surgery,” Del Valle said.

Hackensack University Medical Center is the lead site for the Phase 1 clinical trial, and researchers, along with Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando, are evaluating the Optune device along with chemotherapy for pediatric treatment.

dr Hanson says the researchers are in talks to expand the study to a phase two that would include additional children’s hospitals.


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