People Innovation Excellence

Brain Cancer Patients Survive Longer by Sending Electric Fields Through Their Heads

Jessica Morris was on a hiking trail in upstate New York last January when she suddenly uttered a line of gibberish and fell to the ground, her body shaking in a full seizure. A few hours later in a hospital she learned that she had an aggressive brain tumor, and several days after that she was on the operating table having brain surgery. Since then, she’s been fighting for her life.

She’s grateful to have a radical new weapon in her arsenal, one that only became available to patients like her in 2015. She wears electrodes on her head all day and night to send an electric field through her brain, trying to prevent any leftover tumor cells from multiplying. She’s been wearing this gear for about six months so far. “I think it’s brilliant,” Morris says. “I’m proud to wear it.”

The Optune device, invented by a company called Novocure, can’t exactly be called convenient or unobtrusive. Morris goes about her business with a shaved head plastered with electrodes, which are connected by wires to a bulky generator she carries in a shoulder bag. Every few days her husband helps her switch out the adhesive patches that hold the electrodes, which requires reshaving her head, making sure the skin of her scalp is healthy, …[Read more]

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