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Brain Cancer Health Center

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FDA Approves New Device for Brain Tumor Treatment

Portable Device Treats Brain Tumors With Electrical Fields
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 18, 2011 -- The FDA has approved a new noninvasive portable device for the treatment of a deadly type of brain tumor. The device uses electrical fields to slow and possibly reverse tumor growth.

The device, manufactured by Novocure, is called the NovoTTF-100A System and is meant for adults with glioblastoma multiforme that recurs or progresses after chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Glioblastoma multiforme is a common type of brain cancer, and the tumor is highly resistant to standard treatments, such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, the FDA says in a statement.

Electrodes Placed on Scalp

The new system involves placing electrodes on the patient's scalp to deliver low-intensity electrical fields to the tumor site.

The FDA says the unique shape and electrical characteristics of dividing tumor cells make them susceptible to damage when exposed to the machine's electrical fields and temporarily stop tumor growth.

The device is portable and can be powered with batteries or plugged into an electrical outlet, the FDA says, allowing patients to use it at home and continue normal daily activities.

"Recurrent glioblastoma multiforme is a devastating form of brain cancer that often eludes standard treatments," Jeffrey Shuren, MD, JD, of the FDA, says in a news release.

Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, says the agency's approval of the device shows its "commitment to innovative new devices that provide patients with other treatment options."

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