FDA approves the treatment of brain tumors with electrical fields


February 13, 2012

The NovoTTF treatment involves placing pads onto the patient's skin that creates a low intensity and alternating electric field within the tumor

The NovoTTF treatment involves placing pads onto the patient's skin that creates a low intensity and alternating electric field within the tumor

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The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has approved a new treatment for patients as an alternative to chemotherapy. The promising new non-invasive treatment by Novocure uses "Tumor Treating Fields" (NovoTTF) to treat cancerous growths and is now available for adult patients with recurring brain tumors (recurrent glioblastoma or GBM). The treatment delivers electric fields to a patient utilizing a portable, wearable device that permits the patient to maintain normal daily activities without down time.

"Our device provides patients and physicians with a novel, non-invasive alternative to chemotherapy that is safe and effective," said Eilon Kirson, M.D., Ph.D., Novocure's Chief Medical Officer. "The device allows for continuous treatment without the usual, debilitating side effects that chemotherapies inflict on recurrent GBM patients and indirectly on their families."

The portable device, which weighs about six pounds (three kg), is used continuously throughout the day by the patient. Tests indicate that the devices can slow and reverse tumor growth by inhibiting mitosis, the process by which cancerous cells divide and replicate. The NovoTTF treatment involves placing pads onto the patient's skin that creates a low intensity and alternating electric field within the tumor. The electric field prevents the normal mitotic process and causes cancer cell death prior to division without harming healthy cells. Whilst chemotherapy treatments can often be debilitating, the most commonly reported side effect from the NovoTTF treatment is a mild-to-moderate rash beneath the electrodes.

Glioblastoma is considered an aggressive and common form of primary brain cancer. In the United States the disease affects approximately 10,000 people each year. The results from a 237-patient trial indicated that NovoTTF treated patients achieved comparable median overall survival times to patients treated with chemotherapy but had fewer side effects, and reported an improved quality of life.

"In the lab we've observed tremendous synergies between chemotherapy and tumor treating fields," said Bill Doyle, Executive Chairman of Novocure, in a recent TED talk. "We have more trails planned for lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer and breast cancer. And I firmly believe that in the next ten years Tumor Treating Fields will be a weapon available to doctors and patients for all of these most difficult to treat solid tumors."

You can watch Bill Doyle discuss the benefits of NovoTFF treatment in a TED talk on the video below.

Novocure also has European marketing approvals for the NovoTTF-100A.

Source: Novocure

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

Tiny thought, people blah blah about cellphones not affecting the brain because it is non ionizing radiation yet here we have a device using an electric field to prevent normal mitotic processes. Also another limb for me to climb out on: even with the studies that vindicate cellphone towers (industry funded) should not these studies be redone with each new frequency licensed? I suspect most of the studies oft quoted are of old analog cellphone technologies at different frequencies and power levels.

Bob Humbly

Bob, that was my first thought also. Electric fields can treat cancer -- but they don\'t cause cancer???

Remember how long it took for the tobacco industry to fess up?


These are completely different things - this is an actual electric field that\'s using electrodes to conduct it into the body, whereas cellphones emit radio waves. You simply cannot compare the two.

Will Sharp

Will Sharp said it right, here there is an elettric field meaning there is a direct voltage with a current flowing in the body. Electromagnetic wave act totally different

Francesco Baldacchini

If this works would cost less than chemo drugs?

Carlos Grados

Tracking (and blocking) the pain receptors in the brain associated with cancer via electrical waves might also be a worthwhile venture. The side affects of using other forms of pain remedies may be reduced.


Yes, as previously stated, this type of therapy and cell phones are completely different. Cell phones, WIFI, cordless telephones, etc use a type of packet date delivery typically in the GHz range which is now confirmed to be dangerous to health.

Bio-electric therapy including this TTF uses lower frequencies typically in the Hz and MHz range that use sine or square waves with the base frequencies sometimes modulated on an RF carrier frequency for cell penetration.

Having worked in this field of coordinative resonance for over 30 years I can say that I never would use a cell phone next to my head or body and NEVER have WIFI or a cordless telephone in my home.

Here is a partial list of resources regarding the dangers of cell phones, cordless phones, and WIFI:

Cell, WIFI & Cordless Phone Hazards: The Real Truth from Independant Scientists WHO Says this Common Device is in the Same Category as Lead, Engine Exhaust, and Chloroform Cell Phones, EMF Negatively Altering Important Regions of the Brain Zapped by Ann Louise Gittleman Silent Fields and Dirty Electricity by Donna Fisher Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age by George Carlo Uninformed Consent : The Hidden Dangers in Dental Care by Hal A. Huggins, DDS (h ttp:// Electrosmog a Phantom Risk - Christian Brauner Motorcycle Cancer by Randall Dale Chipkar ( Cell Phones and The Dark Deception: Find Out What You're Not Being Told...And Why - Carleigh Cooper Wireless Radiation Rescue: safeguarding your family from the risks of electro-pollution by Kerry Crofton Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family by Devra Lee Davis Health Hazards Of Electromagnetic Radiation, 2nd Edition: A Startling Look At The Effects Of Electropollution On Your Health by Bruce Fife, ND Cell Towers Wireless Convenience or Environmental Hazard Edited by B. Blake Levitt Cross Currents Promise of Electromagnetism, Perils of Electropollution by Robert O. Becker Electromagnetic Fields and Radiation: Human Bioeffects & Safety by Riadh W. y. Habash Fields From Electric Power What Do We Know About Possible Health Risks? by Prof. M. Granger Morgan The Great Power-Line Cover-Up by Paul Brodeur HAARP The Ultimate Weapon of the Conspiracy by Jerry Smith Living Safely with Electromagnetic Radiation by Jim Waugh Possible Health Effects of Exposure To Residental Electric & Magnetic Fields by National Research Council Power Frequency Magnetic Fields and Public Health by William Horton & Saul Goldberg The Powerwatch Handbook by Alasdair and Jean Philips Public Exposure: DNA, Democracy and the Wireless Revolution EMF IN The Workplace by National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health The Sick House Survival Guide Warning: The Electricity Around You May Be Hazardous To Your Health by Ellen Sugarman Would You Put Your Head In A Microwave Oven by Gerald Goldberg, MD Too many more to list . . . Valiant Thor

So, finally the smartphone I use and I am totally dependent upon, is it dangerous for me?

Dawar Saify

Valiant Thor, after reading your post, and 75% of the titles you listed (I just can't plod through the rest of them - alternating between laughter and some other emotion was just too much), I can honestly say that you know pretty much nothing at all. It's OK to posit a theory, but you have to remember that there is that tricky little bit of proof that comes at the end before you can use it. And sage words from Grandma, or the guy you know at work, or Rachael Carson do not constitute proof.


The reason this too-good-to-be-true treatment got approved is because mitosis doesn't happen in the brain after a certain age. I think we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have. Who cares if we impede cell division in the nervous system?

Jessica Webb
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