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Brain cancer patient credits electrical cap for progress

Monday, October 07, 2013

The latest weapon against brain cancer is electricity. Two years ago, we showed you a new treatment for brain cancer using an "electric cap." A young mother who came to Houston from Mexico, desperate to survive, wore the electric cap for 18 hours a day. Two years later, she's alive and better.

The last time Melissa Hernandez-Chaczco was here, she was in a wheelchair. This time, she walked in to see the doctor who has been treating her for brain cancer.

"The cancer is gone," Hernandez-Chaczco said.

Hernandez-Chaczco credits a kind of cancer cap that shot electricity into her brain tumor for 18 hours a day for two years. She also had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

"She believes that made the difference for her. It's a little uncomfortable to use but it's absolutely worth it," said her husband, Eduardo Gonzalez.

Anna Escobedo started Novocure treatments a few months ago.

"You don't feel them; once in awhile, I feel a tingling sensation in my electrodes and that's it," Escobedo said.

A battery powers 36 ceramic discs on Anna's head, and it's through those discs that electricity is sent to the brain tumor.

Families are taught how to change the electrodes every few days.

"The electricity has an effect on mitosis or cell division, causing the cells to get paralyzed," said Dr. Pamela New with the Methodist Novocure study. "And if they stay in that stage too long then the cells will die."

Dr. New says the Novocure device, which is FDA approved for recurrent glioblastoma, doesn't seem to effect the rest of the brain.

"Our goal is for her to continue her lifestyle as she's doing, being active with family continue her employement," Dr. New said.

And as Escobedo meets Hernandez-Chaczco, she has hope that this strange new cancer cap really may lengthen her own life.

The Novocure device is FDA approved for recurrent brain cancer. It's still being studied for people who are newly diagnosed.

Dr. New says the side effects are minimal, compared to traditional cancer treatments.

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13

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