It’s been more than a year since Optune, formerly known as Tumor Treating Fields, received FDA approval for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma, and its use is reportedly slowing the disease’s progression while improving patients’ quality of life. A Pittsburgh news station recently highlighted how it is helping a Navy veteran diagnosed with the rare, asbestos-related disease.
Mesothelioma Diagnosed While on Vacation
The story covered on Pittsburgh’s CBS station, KDKA, profiles Terry O’Keefe, a Navy veteran who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma while on a cross-country RV trip. Suddenly beset with symptoms, O’Keefe went to a hospital and was diagnosed with the disease, and upon his return home his diagnosis was confirmed.
Though he began being treated with the multi-modality protocol most frequently used for malignant mesothelioma patients, the combination failed to relieve his symptoms. His physician suggested Optune, the wearable device manufactured by Novocure and originally known as Tumor Treating Fields. He has been using it ever since.
Physician Explains How Optune Slows Mesothelioma Growth
The Optune is a device that targets mesothelioma tumors with electrical currents that stop it from progressing. Allegheny Health Network radiation oncologist Dr. Zachary Horne told KDKA that it stops the cancer cells from dividing. “There are four electrode pads, two on the front and two on the back. It’s hooked up to a generator, a battery pack, and the electrical field goes in this direction. So it crosses in an X type pattern across the patient’s chest. Because they are attuned, very specifically to a cell size, they impact the mesothelioma cells, and they leave everything else essentially alone.”
According to O’Keefe, the device creates discomfort, but has provided him with improved quality of life and more time. “Right now, I can still walk. I’m cutting down trees. We’re kayaking, hiking. I’m still doing things and I’m not ready to give up.” He reports some skin irritation, and says that neither his insurance company nor Medicare will cover the costs. He is waiting on an answer from the VA, but says the company offers a support program that appeals denials and may also eventually cover the costs.
If you or someone you love has mesothelioma and would like more information on the Optune or any other treatment, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.