|Bridgeport Hospital neurosurgeons Kenneth Lipow, MD, and Gary Zimmerman, MD, are the principal Connecticut investigators in an international clinical trial for an innovative approach to treating brain cancer with electric fields.|
"If the results of the trial support early findings, this could be a revolutionary breakthrough in the treatment of aggressive brain cancer for which standard treatments have failed," says Dr. Lipow, who is also Bridgeport Hospital's Chief of Neurosurgery. The treatment centers on the use of the Novo-TTF device, developed by NovoCure, Ltd. (TTF stands for tumor-treating fields.) It is currently designed to treat recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive type of primary brain tumor, which affects nearly 13,000 people in the United States.
"Despite advances in standard therapy, the prognosis for glioblastoma multiforme remains bleak, often leading to death in one year," explains Dr. Lipow. "But now the outlook for patients with GBM may improve with the introduction of this innovative new technology."
Cancer cells divide rapidly in the brain and as a result have different electrical characteristics than healthy cells. The Novo-TTF generates electrical fields of 100–200 kHz that disrupt the division of cancer cells, causing them to break apart and die without affecting healthy cells. Data from a pilot study suggest that the device may slow the growth of glioblastomas and prolong the survival of patients with a recurrent or progressive form of the disease.
The Novo-TTF creates electrical fields using insulated electrodes placed on a patient's scalp. The electrodes, which look like bandages, are attached by wires to a battery pack. Patients carry the battery pack in a shoulder bag, making it possible for them to receive continuous treatment 24 hours a day, with minimal interruption of their daily routine.
NovoCure is enrolling 236 patients in the United States and Europe for the Novo-TTF trial. Eligible patients must be 18 or older and have progressive or recurrent glioblastoma that has not responded to surgery or radiation.
Patients in the trial must also be able to reasonably carry on with normal daily activity. NovoCure will pay for patient costs associated with the trial that are not covered by standard health insurance. For information, call 203-384-3810.
The Norma F. Pfriem Cancer Institute at Bridgeport Hospital is an American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer approved Teaching Hospital Cancer Program delivering care to nearly 1,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients each year—more than any other hospital in Fairfield County. A member of the Yale-New Haven Cancer Network, the Norma F. Pfriem Cancer Institute offers an array of diagnostic, treatment and support services and serves as a leader in cancer education for professionals and the public.
The Cancer Institute also has a Patient Navigator Program—unique in Fairfield County—that provides patients and their families with support and guidance through diagnosis, treatment and recovery, as well as referrals to hospital and community resources.