FDA clears first-of-a-kind device for brain cancer

POSTED: 06:20 PM EDT Apr 15, 2011    UPDATED: 11:53 AM EDT Jul 01, 2013 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medical device maker Novocure says it has received U.S. approval for a first-of-a-kind treatment which fights cancerous brain tumors using electrical energy fields.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the device for patients with aggressive brain cancer that has returned after treatment with chemotherapy. Patients with recurring brain cancer usually live only a few months.

For decades doctors have treated cancer with drugs, radiation and surgery. Novocure's NovoTTF offers a fourth approach. The portable device uses electric fields to disrupt the division of cancer cells that allows tumors to grow. It sends the signals through four electrodes which are taped to the patient's head.

A 237-patient study showed that people using the device lived about as long as those taking chemotherapy. However, patients had significantly fewer side effects.