One of the areas of cancer treatment that researchers are focused on is brain cancer. One of the most common types of brain cancer in adults is glioblastoma, a fast-growing tumor in the brain or spinal cord. Glioblastoma is also one of the most well-known types of cancer due to a few recent celebrity cases, including the late Sen. John McCain. There is no known cure for glioblastoma, but research has found and is continuing to uncover new ways to treat the disease.
A relatively new treatment method called Optune may help extend life for some patients. Optune is a medical device that connects to the scalp. It creates an electric field around the tumor to disrupt the growth of cancer cells in the brain. It is not a replacement for other treatment methods, but may be used with or after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Optune may not be for everyone, and patients should discuss their treatment options with their doctor to find what is best for them.
Avastin, a cancer-fighting drug, was recently fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its goal is to kill a tumor by disrupting the blood flow to it and cutting it off from what it needs to grow. The use of Avastin may prolong the life of a patient or improve quality of life.
One of the most exciting clinical trials that is currently underway uses the poliovirus to attack the cancer. In phase one of clinical trials, researchers have found that injecting an altered poliovirus directly into a patient’s tumor may extend their life. While more clinical trials are on their way, results of the first phase have been promising.
Zachary Vaslow, MD, is a neuro-oncologist with the Cone Health Cancer Center and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Vaslow completed medical school and his neurology residency at Temple University School of Medicine and Temple University Hospital, respectively. He completed his fellowship in neuro-oncology at Duke University Hospital. Vaslow specializes in brain tumors, brain metastases and neurologic complications of cancer.