A novel, electric field treatment (called tumor treating fields or TTF) for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumors, increases survival without any serious side effects. I’m a big fan of this therapy. The device is called “Optune,” by Novocure.
GBM brain tumors are typically treated with a combination of approaches:
- Radiation therapy
- Chemotherapy (Temozolamide or “TMZ” is the most common drug used. This is a oral pill and is usually given during and after radiation therapy to help improve survival outcomes.)
- Tumor treating fields (also called “TTF” which is a new technology. See below)
Improves Survival In Patients With Newly Diagnosed GBM:
In a clinical trial, using Optune with temozolomide (TMZ) was shown to delay GBM tumor growth and extend survival compared with TMZ alone. If you have newly diagnosed GBM and you and your doctor decide to start Optune, it would be used together with the chemotherapy temozolomide (TMZ), after you have already had surgery and radiation with TMZ.
In this study, patients with newly diagnosed GBM who used Optune and TMZ had a median of 7.2 months without their tumor progressing (growing). In comparison, those who used TMZ alone had a median of 4 months without their tumor progressing.
In the same study, those who used Optune and TMZ lived for a median of 20.5 months. In comparison, those who used TMZ alone lived for a median of 15.6 months.
Approximately half of the patients who used Optune with TMZ were alive at 2 years or longer, compared to 32% who were on TMZ alone.
The Basics of the Optune Device:
- The technology uses four, non-invasive, adhesive transducer scalp arrays (below):
- A new set of transducer arrays are placed on a freshly shaven (bald) scalp, every few days.
- The arrays are connected to a portable electric field generator and rechargeable battery pack, which are are placed inside a backpack for portability (see the Optune first and second generation devices, below):
- Wearing the Optune device for at least 18 hours a day provides the best response to treatment.
- Most patients with GBM are treated with surgery, followed by radiation therapy + chemotherapy.
- After these treatments, oncologists usually recommend that their patients stay on TMZ for an additional 6-12 months, to extend survival.
- New data, shown above, demonstrates that by adding Optune TTF to the management of patients with GBM, shortly after completing radiation therapy, survival can be further extended without adding any significant toxicities.
More Information on tumor treating fields (TTF) and Optune:
- Learn more about the science of tumor treating fields (TTF) here.
- For Patients: Learn more about Optune and where you can get the device here (Novocure)
- For Healthcare Providers: Learn more about Optune and where you can get the device here (Novocure)
- Read more about Optune here (American Brain Tumor Association)
- Here’s an article about Optune and one my patients (Las Vegas Review Journal)