Optune® and Travel Security

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Oh, the places you’ll go

During our careers, my wife, Kate, and I both had done extensive travel associated with our jobs and for pleasure. Through our jobs, we had access to shorter wait times through a TSA program, and we chose to pay for it after retirement to keep that tool for travel. I believe this has helped with reducing our time getting through TSA.

Prior to Kate’s diagnosis of GBM, I had just retired, and we had numerous trips planned. With the tumor diagnosis, we chose to keep our travel to the Americas. Before the pandemic, we made numerous trips to Canada and traveled extensively throughout the United States, including at least twice a year to Hawaii. The pandemic slowed us down until we were both vaccinated, and then back to traveling we went. We ventured back to Hawaii and across the country to see our only grandson.


Prepare for takeoff

Preparing for the trip starts at home by making sure you have ample supplies for the array changes. If necessary, request additional supplies from Novocure. In the pelican case, I have the battery charger, a power source, two sets of array changes (with one extra white and one extra black array, just in case), a razor, along with a pouch for the scissors, tape, gauze, array diagrams and photos, and a small bottle of alcohol to clean the scalp after shaving. Usually, one battery is in the pelican case. The others are in a backpack that I carry to change when needed. All batteries are fully charged. The pelican case is my carry-on because you’re not allowed to check a bag containing lithium batteries.


Optune and TSA

Going through TSA, Kate and I both carry the small cards that explain the device. We both ask to use the full-body scan—I have titanium knees—instead of the x-ray machine. The way we usually explain Optune to agents is that it’s an FDA-approved medical treatment for brain tumor patients. We emphasize that it cannot be removed since it’s attached to Kate’s scalp. If the agents show more interest, then I explain how it keeps the cancerous cells from growing. Most agents are satisfied with the first explanation. Occasionally, we need to provide the full explanation and go through full-body pat downs or wait for agents to swab Optune for explosive residue.

It also helps that nearly all our travel is with one airline. Prior to our very first trip with Optune, I did talk to the airline about traveling with Optune to get reassured that we wouldn’t have any issues. Usually, we need to provide a brief explanation to TSA agents. We don’t normally encounter a TSA agent who has heard of or seen Optune before.


Enjoy your flight

It can be a lot of work to prepare for traveling with Optune. I always keep a checklist of the items Kate and I need to pack. Sometimes it’s exhausting having to explain Optune to airlines and TSA agents, but once they realize how important Optune is to us, then they’re a lot more accommodating. It can be a bit of a challenge remembering to charge batteries or change arrays, but if it means my wife and I can experience the world together, then it’s completely worth it.
Topics: Daily Life with Optune, For Caregivers, Support Resources
By Pat, Optune Caregiver

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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:

What is Optune Lua approved to treat?

Optune Lua is a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device indicated for the treatment of adult patients, with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic, malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) to be used together with standard chemotherapy (pemetrexed and platinum-based chemotherapy).

Who should not use Optune for GBM or Optune Lua for MPM?

Optune for GBM and Optune Lua for MPM are not for everyone. Talk to your doctor if you have:

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

What should I know before using Optune for GBM or Optune Lua for MPM?

Optune and Optune Lua 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 and Optune Lua.

What are the possible side effects of Optune for GBM and Optune Lua for MPM?

The most common side effects of Optune when used together with chemotherapy for GBM (temozolomide or TMZ) were low blood platelet count, nausea, constipation, vomiting, tiredness, seizure, and depression.

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

The most common side effects of Optune Lua when used together with chemotherapy for MPM (pemetrexed and platinum-based chemotherapy) were low red blood cell count, constipation, nausea, tiredness, chest pain, fatigue, skin irritation from device use, itchy skin, and cough.

Other potential adverse effects associated with the use of Optune Lua include: treatment related skin irritation, allergic reaction to the plaster or to the gel, electrode overheating leading to pain and/or local skin burns, infections at sites of electrode contact with the skin, local warmth and tingling sensation beneath the electrodes, muscle twitching, medical device site reaction and skin breakdown/skin ulcer.

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

Caution: Federal law restricts Optune Lua to sale by or on the order of a physician. Humanitarian Device. Authorized by Federal Law for use in the treatment of adult patients with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic, malignant pleural mesothelioma concurrently with pemetrexed and platinum-based chemotherapy. The effectiveness of this device for this use has not been demonstrated.

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

Please click here to see the Optune Lua 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.