Electrode Cap Helping Keep Man’s Brain Tumor At Bay

CHICAGO (CBS) — A new treatment for brain cancer uses a device that creates electrical fields to kill cancer cells.

In this Original Report, CBS 2’s Mai Martinez talks to one man who says it’s given him a new lease on life.

For Rick Ledesma and his family, every day is a blessing. In January of last year, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive, usually deadly form of brain cancer.

An MRI revealed a baseball-size brain tumor. Doctors tried to remove it, but they were only able to remove 60 percent of it.

“They couldn’t take out the rest of it because it was wrapped around some I guess crucial part of the brain,” Ledesma said.

Rick was told by doctors he had 2 to 15 months to live.

“It’s devastating,” he said. “You don’t think of yourself at that point. You think of your kids.”

His wife Janet started looking for treatment options online, and found that electrical work known as tumor-treating fields showed promise. That led the family to Dr. Rimas Lukas at the University of Chicago Medicine.

Dr. Lukas decided a combination of medication and a device marketed as Optune was the best treatment.

The device is powered by batteries in a backpack and uses 36 ceramic electrodes attached to the patient’s head. The electrodes generate electrical impulses designed to kill dividing cancers cells in the brain, without harming healthy cells.

“You can have the potential for the cell to be realizing that it’s too much damage and then they become apoptotic, or die,” said Dr. Lukas.

The treatment seems to be working. Scans show Rick’s tumor is still there, but it’s not growing.

Rick says the extra time means, “I get to spend one more day with my children. I get to spend one more day with my family.”

Rick gives his doctors in Michigan and here in Chicago a lot of credit for his survival, but he also believes God had a hand in guiding him to them and this new treatment.

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