A new study presented on Sunday discovered an effective method to prolong the life expectancy of patients suffering from brain cancer. The study involved the administering of electrical fields through the scalp of the patients. This electricity might block the expansion of the tumor.
Using electricity to treat brain tumors
During the study, the researchers used some electrical fields of low intensity. They administered them to patients who had just discovered their tumor. However, these patients were also receiving chemotherapy. Roger Stupp, the lead researcher, thinks that the electricity can stop the tumor for multiplying and, eventually, kill it.
Stupp is a neurooncologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He has been working on this device for quite some time now, and he really hopes that it can bring improvements in the survival rates of brain cancer patients. However, there are some who are skeptical.
Stupp presented the study at the yearly meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research which took place in Washington, D.C. It involved 695 participants who were part of the study between 2009 and 2014. Some of them were chosen randomly to test the device. These survived for an average of 21 months, as compared to the average of 16 moths for those who only underwent chemotherapy.
Some researchers are skeptical
Other scientists think that the device is indeed remarkable, but the progress is not so big. There is not such a big increase in the survival rate of these patients, but any small progress should be embraced and they should try to make it grow.
They think that the study should also have involved a placebo. That is, some of the patients could have received a treatment without any electrical fields. This would have brought more proof that the device could indeed bring some improvements in the condition of the patients.
However, Stupp disagrees. He says that the patients would have noticed that they are treated with a different device. The one that administers electric fields causes a warming sensation on the scalp. Thus, it would have been hard to create a placebo.
This device might indeed turn out to be effective. Maybe there is not much progress, but it eases the suffering of the brain cancer patients and expands their life expectancy, even if only by a few months. After more research, the scientists can improve the device and the results will surely be more impressive.
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