Surgery and Optune®—discovering the best treatment option for me

Making the decision to have brain surgery

When an MRI confirmed I had a tumor in my brain, I couldn’t believe it. I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking, It’s not real; it must have been a dream. It was all I could think about. I felt okay, so I guess I was still in denial. I went to see a neurosurgeon right away, who advised me I needed brain surgery. Deciding to pursue brain surgery was extremely tough, but I knew I had to have surgery to fully diagnose this cancer. I trusted my neurology oncologist group to help me make the most logical decisions regarding my health and safety, so if he suggested something, I would do it.
 

Post-surgery and diagnosis

I had surgery within a couple of days by a great doctor I worked with at the hospital. I am a registered nurse. It all happened very quickly. The cancer cells were intermixed with my normal brain cells, so he could not remove any portion of my brain tumor. He did a brain biopsy to remove a sample of the abnormal brain tissue for examination. I ended up with a small titanium plate attached to the skull.

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Right before the surgery, which was on a Wednesday, I asked my nurse navigator if I could go back to work at the end of that week. She said since I was having brain surgery that it would be best to take at least a couple of days off. I did go back to work the next week because going back to work just felt normal to me. I was never a cancer nurse, so I don’t know much about it. Honestly, I really felt like I was a patient. I thought I would just have one little surgery and go back to work.
 
When we got the initial results back, it looked like my tumor was a lesser grade than we thought. My doctor and his assistant knew me and were all very excited. My husband was jumping up and down. Then two days later, the final results came back with the worst-case scenario—stage 4 GBM. I was shell-shocked.


Discovering Optune

Despite this aggressive diagnosis, I knew I still needed to be the strong mother, wife, and person I’ve always been. I met with my neuro-oncologist two days after the surgery to discuss treatment options. He started talking about Optune, so I read as much as I could about this treatment. I learned that it was a device that would be connected to my head with arrays, which meant I would have to shave my head to use it. The hardest part about deciding to use Optune was the anticipation of starting it. There were still so many unknowns running through my head even when I made the decision with my doctor to start Optune.

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Experience using Optune

It definitely took trial and error to figure out what worked best for me when I first started Optune. I have gotten used to using the device—it’s like carrying a purse 24/7. Really the only thing I’ll wear on top of Optune is a little crinkle cap. I looked into wearing a wig, but I think it would be too hot for me. One time my daughter and I were looking for wigs, and we found one that we liked. My husband said, “I don’t know, I’m used to you without hair now and you are beautiful.” So, I didn’t get the wig, which was easier for me.
 
Since starting Optune, my MRIs have shown no new growth on my tumor, which has given me a positive feeling that I’m doing something right for me in terms of treatment. I am very happy I made the decision to use Optune and feel grateful for the love and support I have received during this unexpected journey.
Topics: Learning About Optune, The Optune System, Support Resources
By Karen, Optune patient

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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.