Lung Cancer: Zapping it at Home


ATLANTA, Ga. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Thirteen percent of all cancer diagnosis are lung cancer – in fact, more than 200,000 people a year are diagnosed with it and despite medical advancements, it’s still one of the deadliest cancers. Now, doctors are not only battling this disease at the hospital, but taking the fight right into the patient’s own home.

Lung cancer — it can literally take your breath away. Despite chemo, radiation, and immunotherapy, it is still one of the hardest cancers to treat.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University oncologist, Ticiana Leal, MD explains, “Within lung cancer diagnosis about 60 percent of the people are diagnosed with advanced disease. Eighty-five percent of patients have non-small cell lung cancer, which is the most common type.”

Dr. Leal is leading the lunar trial — a phase three clinical trial for stage four non-small cell lung cancer patients. It uses an at-home wearable device to zap cancer cells. It’s called Tumor Treating Fields Therapy.

“Tumor Treating Fields are electric fields that exert physical forces on electrically charged components of cells,” Dr. Leal further explains.

Tumor Treating Field Therapy is already being used for glioblastomas and mesothelioma. For lung cancer, it uses low-intensity electrical fields delivered through this wearable device.

Dr. Leal adds, “Patients wear two pairs of arrays.”

The arrays transmit mild electric fields, disrupting cell division and preventing the growth of cancer cells. The arrays are worn for 18 hours a day.

“That means that patients are wearing at home, but they’re also taking it with them wherever they go,” Dr. Leal says.

Researchers found that combining the fields therapy with immunotherapy resulted in an eight-month improvement in overall survival.

“I think this is a, potentially, paradigm shift in how we treat lung cancer,” Dr. Leal expresses.

The most common side effect seems to be dermatitis, or a rash. The treatment has not yet been approved by the FDA. They hope that will happen in the coming year. Researchers are also looking at using tumor treating field therapy to fight liver and pancreatic cancers.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Matt Goldschmit, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Lung cancer is a chronic illness that stems from cancerous cells growing in the lungs. According to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, with over 125,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Lung cancer kills three times as many men as prostate cancer and three times as many women as breast cancer. People who are most at risk for the disease are those who smoke, have experienced secondhand smoking, air pollution, radiation, or have a family history of lung cancer.


DIAGNOSING: Lung cancer symptoms typically don’t show up until the later stages of the disease. Those symptoms include coughing up blood, shortness of breath, hoarseness, bone pain, headache, chest pain, and unexplained weight loss. Doctors can diagnose lung cancer with an imaging test, like an X-ray or a CT scan, sputum cytology, or a tissue sample, also known as a biopsy.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Ticiana Leal, MD, an oncologist at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, is leading a trial that allows for lung cancer patients to do treatments in their own homes. Dr. Leal says, “Tumor Treating Field therapy treats cancer using low-intensity electrical fields delivered through a wearable device. Overall survival improved among patients who received Tumor Treating Field therapy and standard of care compared with those who received standard of care alone.”


Ticiana Leal, MD, Oncologist, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University)


Andrea Clement

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at