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Novocure (Tumor Treating Fields) for Treatment of Glioblastoma

December 27, 2019

Health Problem: Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most prevalent primary malignant intracranial tumor, representing as much as 16% of primary brain tumors. GBM is a fast-growing glioma that develops from glial cells in the brain; it is also referred to as a grade IV astrocytoma. In the United States, the annual incidence of GBM ranges from 0.59 to 3.69 cases per 100,000 people.

Technology Description: Tumor treating fields (TTF), also referred to as the Optune device, is the novel method of cancer treatment that involves emitting alternating electric fields to disrupt the rapid cell division exhibited by cancer cells. TTF therapy has been approved for use in patients with recurrent GBM or as a concomitant treatment with temozolomide in patients with newly diagnosed GBM.

Controversy: The efficacy and safety of TTF as a monotherapy or in combination with other treatment modalities have not been established. More research is needed to investigate the effects of TTF on quality of life (QOL) and other functional measures. TTF has only been compared with other active treatments; its efficacy and safety compared with sham treatment are unknown.

Key Questions:

  • Is TTF therapy effective in increasing survival and QOL in patients with GBM?
  • How does TTF therapy compare with alternative treatments for patients with GBM?
  • Is TTF therapy safe?
  • Have definitive patient selection criteria been identified for TTF therapy?