Tumor-treating fields are a newer treatment option for brain tumors that use a device worn on the head that generates electromagnetic fields to locally block cell division. The treatment is FDA-approved for glioblastoma and commonly used in combination with chemotherapy.
The device that generates tumor-treating fields is known as Optune. It consists of an array of electrical nodes that are customized to most directly the patient’s cancer, attached to a 3 pound device worn in a pouch that powers the fields. Patients wear the nodes on their head all the time while they are in treatment, and the device is usually operating for at least 18 hours each day.
For more about Optune, read our interview with manufacturer’s chief scientist.
Possible Side Effects and Risks of Tumor-Treating Fields
The most common side effects from using Optune / tumor-treating fields are scalp irritation and headache.
Possible side effects:
The following adverse reactions were considered related to Optune when using the device alone. Other effects may be observed when combining with chemotherapy.
- Scalp irritation from device use
- Muscle twitching,
- Skin ulcer
Talk to your physician about effects you are having and ways side effects can be managed.