Navy veteran Terry O’Keefe was enjoying his retirement traveling cross country in his RV when his life took a sudden and unexpected twist. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of internal organs. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure and O’Keefe, while working in the Navy decades earlier, had been around plenty of it.
It can take decades for symptoms to appear after asbestos exposure. But once diagnosed, the prognosis is dire. Most people succumb to the disease within 12 to 24 months even with treatment.
The problem was, O’Keefe wasn’t ready to die. When surgery, chemotherapy and radiation failed to cure him, his doctor suggested a new treatment. A wearable device called Optune Lua.
“I said, ‘Yes, anything you can do to prolong my life,’” O’Keefe told his doctor. “’I’ve got stuff we’re trying to do.’”
Optune Lua is a tumor treating fields, or TTF, device. Formerly known as the NovoTTF-100L System, Optune Lua was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be a first-line treatment for unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic, malignant pleural mesothelioma in May 2019. At the time, it was the first pleural mesothelioma treatment to be approved by the FDA in 15 years.
A similar device was originally approved in April 2011 as a treatment for glioblastoma multiforme, a fast-growing malignant tumor that affects the brain or spine.
Optune Lua creates “tumor treating fields” (TTFields)—invisible fields of low-intensity, wave-like electricity—to disrupt division of cancer cells. They may also destroy some cancer cells completely. The device is placed on the body and is worn for several hours a day.
Optune Lua was approved based on a clinical trial that showed mesothelioma tumors shrink in 40% of patients treated with Optuna Lua along with chemotherapy, and mesothelioma tumors stop growing in 57% of patients. The device also helped prolong the lives of study participants.
For O’Keefe, Optune Lua was literally a lifesaver. “Right now, I can still walk. I’m cutting down trees. We’re kayaking, hiking,” he told CBS Pittsburg. “I’m still doing things and I’m not ready to give up.”
Beasley Allen lawyers handle mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma. Charlie Stern in our Toxic Torts Section is the lead attorney working on these types of cases. As an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, Charlie is well equipped to tackle asbestos cases, which are highly complicated and require someone with a true understanding of the facts, medical issues, science and law. He is working together with Will Sutton, an experienced lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. Contact us for more information.