January 21, 2016 – Electrical Fields and Brain Tumors


Anchor lead:  Can a helmet using electrical fields improve survival from some brain tumors? Elizabeth Tracey reports

A helmet employing alternating electrical field pulses has been shown to improve survival from glioblastoma, one type of deadly brain tumor, a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association found. Jon Weingart, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, explains the strategy.

Weingart:  It involves using what’s called tumor treating fields or low wave frequency electric fields that are applied to the scalp, which the mechanism is to disrupt cellular biology such that it keeps cells from being able to divide. So it’s a low intensity microwave in a way that disrupts cellular division and thus would affect any process that requires cellular division to progress, which is what tumors do.   :30

Weingart says the helmet is custom made and used alongside surgery and possibly also chemotherapy.  He says people wear the helmet for the majority of the day and must shave their heads to do so, but most have found the process tolerable and continue their activities.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.