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Treatment for glioblastoma (GBM)
Intended for US audiences only.

About glioblastoma

What is glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma is also called glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM. GBM is a type of primary brain cancer. This means that GBM tumors begin in the brain, rather than starting in another part of the body and then traveling to the brain. GBM is the most common type of primary brain cancer in adults.

Who gets GBM?

A diagnosis may have been your first time learning about GBM. Because of this, it may seem that GBM is rare compared with lung cancer or breast cancer. But you are not alone.

How many glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumor cases each year in the US? How many glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumor cases each year in the US? Who is at risk for glioblastoma (GBM)? Who is at risk for glioblastoma (GBM)?

Where in the brain does GBM occur?

Most people get GBM tumors in their cerebral hemispheres—the left and right halves of the brain that control reading, thinking, speech, muscle movement, and emotions. Rarely, GBM can also appear in the brain stem or spinal cord.

Where does glioblastoma (GBM) occur in the brain? Where does glioblastoma (GBM) occur in the brain?

What kinds of symptoms does GBM cause?

GBM does not usually spread to other areas of the body. However, GBM tumors grow quickly in the brain. Because of this, you may have noticed symptoms appearing suddenly, as if out of nowhere.

As a GBM tumor grows, it can put pressure on the brain, causing:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness

Depending on the location of the tumor, GBM can also interfere with how the brain controls other parts of the body, leading to:

  • Seizures
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Difficulty with memory or speech
  • Changes in vision

Why is GBM hard to treat?

You may have heard that GBM can be hard to treat. That has a lot to do with where GBM is located in the brain. Because GBM can be hard to reach, surgery may not be able to remove the entire tumor. GBM also grows fast and can spread quickly. But there is a variety of approaches available to treat GBM. The more you know about your options—and the sooner you know about them—the greater your opportunity to take control of GBM.

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with GBM for the first time, see Treatments for newly diagnosed GBM.
If you or a loved one received treatment for GBM, and the tumor returned, see Treatments for recurrent GBM.

  1. American Brain Tumor Association. Glioblastoma. Accessed May 30, 2018.
  2. Ostrom QT, Gittleman H, Fulop J et al. CBTRUS Statistical Report: primary brain and central nervous system tumors diagnosed in the United States in 2008–2012. Neuro-Oncology. 2015;17(suppl4):iv1-iv62 doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nov189.
  3. National Brain Tumor Society. Tumor types: understanding brain tumors. Accessed May 30, 2018.
  4. National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. What is cancer? Updated February 9, 2015. Accessed May 30, 2018.

What is Optune® approved to treat?

Optune is a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device indicated to treat a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in adult patients 22 years of age or older.

Newly diagnosed GBM

If you have newly diagnosed GBM, Optune is used together with a chemotherapy called temozolomide (TMZ) if:

Recurrent GBM

If your tumor has come back, Optune can be used alone as an alternative to standard medical therapy if:

Who should not use Optune?

Optune is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor if you have:

Do not use Optune if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. It is not known if Optune is safe or effective during pregnancy.

What should I know before using Optune?

Optune should only be used after receiving training from qualified personnel, such as your doctor, a nurse, or other medical staff who have completed a training course given by Novocure®, the maker of Optune.

What are the possible side effects of Optune?

Most common side effects of Optune when used together with chemotherapy (temozolomide, or TMZ) were low blood platelet count, nausea, constipation, vomiting, tiredness, scalp irritation from the device, headache, seizure, and depression.

The most common side effects when using Optune alone were scalp irritation (redness and itchiness) and headache. Other side effects were malaise, muscle twitching, fall and skin ulcers.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of these side effects or questions.

Please click here to see the Optune Instructions for Use (IFU) for complete information regarding the device's indications, contraindications, warnings, and precautions.

On this site, patient and healthcare professional videos as well as all images labeled as Optune users, caregivers, or healthcare professionals depict actual patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. All other depictions of patients and caregivers are actor portrayals. Patient images reflect the health status of the patients at the time each photo was taken.

What is Optune approved to treat?

Optune is indicated to treat a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in adult patients 22 years of age or older.