AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A patient with incurable brain cancer has been given more time thanks to a new device. It looks like a swimming cap but works to keep the tumor from growing.
CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh found out the treatment is painless, non-invasive and portable — and for one young man from Colorado Springs it’s working.
“I actually prefer it when people come up to me and say, ‘What is that?'” Justin Boley said.
It looks like some sort of space age skull cap, but the apparatus on Boley’s head is more of a time machine.
“It’s basically like it’s stopping time in my brain, kind of, for the cancer cells at least,” Boley said.
Boley, 23, has glioblastoma, an inoperable malignant brain tumor diagnosed in February.
“I couldn’t speak, basically all my speech, I just, I couldn’t,” he said.
Boley had aggressive radiation and chemotherapy. Then he started wearing the Optune 18 hours every day. Wired patches are placed on his scalp.
“What this device does is it delivers alternating electrical fields to the brain tissue underneath the electrodes,” Dr. Doug Ney said.
Ney is Boley’s neuro-oncologist at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. He says the Optune targets and zaps dividing cancer cells.
“Instead of dividing into two or four or eight, those tumor cells then have no other chance but to die,” Ney said. “It’s not a cure, but we are seeing promising results.”
Boley’s tumor shrunk at least 50 percent.
“So far it seems to be helping,” he said.
Ney says the average survival of a glioblastoma patient is a little over a year. The Optune can add an average three to five months.
“That’s important to people,” Ney said.
“It makes me feel better, less worried,” Boley said.
Boley is hoping the Optune buys him enough time for researchers to find a cure.
The Optune device is Food and Drug Administration-approved.
Boley says it gets a little hot and the power pack is heavy, but it doesn’t stop him from crossing things off his bucket list and living his life to the fullest.