Stay on target
A wearable medical device has proven effective among patients with brain cancer.
Optune, when used in conjunction with standard temozolomide chemotherapy, significantly improved median overall survival rates for glioblastoma patients.
“Glioblastoma is the deadliest primary malignancy of the central nervous system for adults,” according to Roger Stupp, professor of neurological surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and associate director for strategic initiatives at the Robert H Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of NU. An estimated 12,500 people are diagnosed with GBM in the US each year.
Two decades ago, Stupp said, the majority of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients died within less than one year; long-term survival was nearly unheard of. Now, with the development of Optune, one in seven patients is living longer than five years.
The noninvasive, portable system includes an electric field generator and transducer arrays—papery sheets applied to a shaved scalp. During its 18-plus hours of wear each day, Optune delivers low-intensity electric fields (tumor treating fields) meant to disrupt the growth of cancer cells.
Between July 2009 and November 2014, Stupp enrolled nearly 700 people newly diagnosed with glioblastoma in a clinical trial: 466 were randomly assigned temozolomide and TTFields delivered by the Optune; 229 were randomly assigned temozolomide alone.
Final results tip a median survival rate for Optune users at 21 months, compared with 16 months for those receiving temozolomide alone.
Optune patient Michael Davies (Novocure)
“TTFields are an entirely new treatment modality,” Stupp said. “We need to continue to think outside the box to find other new treatments and then we need to learn how best to combine them with existing treatment modalities to ensure maximum patient benefit.”
The team leader presented his results at Sunday’s American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017 in Washington, D.C.
“Beyond GBM, I believe this trial establishes an entirely different approach to cancer treatment with minimal toxicity,” Stupp said, suggesting the technology may be adapted for treatment among “many other cancer types.”