Mesothelioma patients: Wearable device may extend life expectancy

Individuals who have been exposed to asbestos at some point during their life might notice that they’re having trouble breathing at some point. This can happen years, even decades, after the exposure. Unfortunately, trouble breathing and chest pains are signs that the person may be suffering from mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rapidly spreading aggressive cancer that doesn’t have a cure. For many patients, the prognosis is a short 12 to 15 months, partly because of the quick spread. Up until recently, there wasn’t anything that doctors could do to help these patients to live longer.

Wearable device shows promise

A device known as Optune is showing promise for adding a few more months to the life expectancy of individuals who have mesothelioma. The device has four large electrode pads that are hooked up to a rechargeable power source. Two pads go on the back and two go on the chest.

The device sends rapid electrical impulses in a crisscross manner between the pads through the body. This interrupts the ability of the mesothelioma cells to replicate and divide, which slows the growth of the cancer. For some, the life expectancy increases to 18 months thanks to the device.

Patients have to wear the FDA-approved device for approximately 18 hours per day. At night, the power pack is plugged into an outlet to recharge. The patient must put the device back on the morning. The power pack is contained in a backpack so the patient is mobile during the day.

Challenges are part of the treatment

This treatment option isn’t without challenges. Patients who wear this device can experience burns from the electrode pads. This is common if the person sweats because the electrode pads must be firmly against the skin to work properly. When they get loose, burns with blisters can occur.

There’s also the matter of the price. The device costs around $21,000 per month, so this might be prohibitive for some patients. Anyone who has mesothelioma should explore the option of seeking compensation for this condition. It’s best to do this quickly since there are time limits that apply to these cases.