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New therapies show promise in fight against cancer

New treatment therapies are showing promise in fighting cancer like glioblastoma. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Sen. John McCain returned to Arizona this week to undergo follow-up treatment after surgery for brain cancer, and this is now giving hope to others living with this disease.

McCain has glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. While it's a tough cancer to treat, the team from OHC at Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health says there are newer therapies, showing promising results in early clinical trials.

Standard radiation fights cancers like glioblastoma, or GBM. Dr. David Pratt says it's usually delivered over three to six weeks, depending on dosage. It's usually given with chemotherapy.

If the GBM continues to progress or returns however, then the gamma knife might be the next step.

"There's no knife here or cutting here," said Dr. Pratt. "The principal with surgery is you remove a tumor; we use radiation to go through the skin to target a tumor and remove it without opening up the patient."

Some of these are just examples of the things now they can use, but there's also a few treatments on the horizon that are offering us some hope. One of those, according to cancer specialist Dr. Jim Essell, is called immune therapy.

"It's really groundbreaking," Dr. Essell said. "It's not chemotherapy, so it's not killing off the normal cells; it's basically driving the cells into the cancer."

Right now for GBM, this therapy is only available in clinical trials, but it basically boosts your own immune system to fight back.

There is no word if Sen. McCain will participate in any of these trials, but researchers say this has potential to fight back against this type of brain cancer in ways we've never had in the fight against GBM before now.

Now, the immune therapy shows good success with other cancers, but we don't have final results yet on GBM clinical trials.

Dr. Pratt told said studies show gamma knife when used in this kind of brain cancer, do extend life expectancy for seven months on average.

McCain's aides say the senator will keep his work schedule while undergoing treatment-- at least for the time being.

He plans to return to Washington, DC at the end of the August recess for Congress.

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