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Brain Cancer Patient Benefits From New Treatment

Posted on: 11/09/2007

Brain Cancer Patient Benefits From New Treatment

Highly Experimental Device Has Made Daniel Torres One Of The Longest-Living People With This Form Of Cancer

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CHICAGO (CBS) ? A stunning new and highly experimental treatment for the most deadly type of brain tumor helped save the life of a 52-year-old man.

As CBS 2 Medical Editor Mary Ann Childers reports, Daniel Torres is one of the longest-living survivors of glioblastoma, the most aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer.

"If you look at someone who had a few weeks of life expectancy who's here for another year, that's tremendous," said UIC neurosurgeon Herbert Engelhard, M.D.

CBS 2 first reported Torres' story a year ago, when he became the first person in the U.S. to try an experimental treatment. At the time, his doctors held out little hope.

"Before he came into the study he'd failed every possible therapy for this disease," Engelhard said.

For the past year, Torres has worn a device that secures 36 electrodes to his head. He's worn it 24 hours a day, except when he showers. It generates low intensity electrical currents that blast cancer cells apart just as they start to divide. Healthy brain cells aren't affected -- just the tumor.

"There's no doubt in my mind that this treatment slowed it down," Engelhard said.

It hasn't been an easy year for Torres, his wife, Sylvia, and their four children. They have made 102 hospital visits for blood tests and MRI checks. Torres uses a walker -- not for balance, but to carry a seven-pound battery pack.

The news continues to be good; things are stable. One doctor was very optimistic, telling them: "You were here for Thanksgiving and you are going to be for this Thanksgiving and many, many Thanksgivings more," Sylvia Torres said.

Engelhard hopes that's the case, but says there's no real way to know. He says the treatment is not a cure, but it does appear to buy patients precious time. The study runs one more year, and patients may still enroll. Right now, there are 49 other people in the U.S. wearing the device.

For more information about the study contact:
University of Illinois at Chicago (recruiting)
Chicago, IL 60612
Principal Investigator: Herbert Engelhard, MD, Ph.D.
Contact: Karriem Watson

Northwestern University (recruiting)
Chicago, IL 60611
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Raizer, MD
Contact: Lilia Gallot

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