Working with Optune®

Return to work concerns

I work full-time in an office/desk job for my local government, and a lot of my responsibilities and duties involve working with a computer and not too much physical activity. Sometimes, my job requires me to work events and handle requests where I am on my feet and moving around quite a bit. Still, it’s nothing that would be confused with manual labor. When I made the decision to commit to using Optune, one of my biggest concerns was how it would affect my job once I returned to work. How would my coworkers react to it? Would there be any changes to my current processes and procedures? Oh man, what are my clients and the public going to think? What I discovered was this: I was worrying about nothing and my transition back to full-time employment was easier than I could have imagined.

Explaining Optune to others

People often ask me to explain Optune to them. The first thing I like to do is ask people what they think it is and this usually produces some interesting and comical answers! I then explain that this device is my day-to-day treatment option for my glioblastoma. It is electronic-based therapy that is modeled just to my head and the frequency is tuned to target the GBM cells. I tell them it sends out electrical fields often enough to disrupt the remaining pieces of my tumor so they may be unable to grow and divide to form a new tumor. I also mention that for best results, I am recommended to use it at least 18 hours a day. However, I never force this answer on people and just let them bring it up.

Challenges and solutions

In terms of challenges I faced, one of the first was making sure the alarms and noise that Optune makes wouldn’t disrupt the rest of the office floor. This could mean my device was erroring or I was away from it for too long. I had to make sure I was cognizant of the noise I was making while working in an open office. If I am ever away from my desk, I make sure to turn the device off no matter how long I plan to be away from my desk. Any routine restroom trip can turn into a 10–15-minute conversation if you run into that particular coworker in an office!

I also had the challenge of temperature control in an open office. If I was hot, which is often the case when I use Optune, and generally the case being a bigger individual, I couldn’t just turn down the temperature. To combat this, I went out and purchased a desk fan that I can utilize when I feel warmer than everyone else, and I have, to the tune of wearing out two to three fans!

I also had to make some adjustments to my routines and processes. The first was the dress code. Working a government office job, the expected dress for men is generally ties and button-up shirts. Those outfits had always made me sweat more and I was concerned about my ties getting tangled up with my device wires. I approached my employer and they approved me wearing polos to combat this. This toned-down dress code helped with temperature issues as polos are much cooler than dress shirts.

I also worked with them on expectations concerning events and classes that would require me to leave the office and be on my feet more, and therefore sweating more often which would likely disrupt my device usage. My employer gave me the flexibility and ability to accept what events I wanted to work and decide whether it was strictly a “desk day” or not. There are some event days where I make the decision to use Optune as long as I can and then take it off if it feels loose or is erroring. I also schedule my time on the device to afford myself some work events where I leave it off. It is all about what makes you the most comfortable!

Materials on deck

In terms of batteries, I requested extra chargers and batteries from nCompass® just for my desk at work. I have three batteries always fully charged at the office in case I need them, and I make sure to rotate them out with the ones I currently use to ensure they are working properly. I keep my device plugged in and off battery power in case a meeting or something of that nature comes up and I need to be away from my desk for more than a few minutes. I also always make sure I have a fully charged backup battery in my backpack when I am at events or classes.

Additional tips and tricks

These tips have helped me in returning to work, so I hope they help you too. I always have an umbrella stashed in my desk and an extra shower cap in my bag for those pesky rain showers that can pop up. I make sure to have a backup set of arrays and materials in case I need to switch out my arrays. I also keep extra plastic bags at work to hold the used arrays I have taken off my head until I get home and can transfer them to the official return bag. There may be times your device will error at work, no matter what you do. That is okay! If you cannot figure out the alarm quickly, or have to run to a meeting, then I suggest powering off the device or taking the arrays off and giving yourself some time.

I have a part-time job working the front counter of a bowling alley because bowling is one of my hobbies and this job helps me pay off my student loans. For this job, I set it up to where I can take time off Optune since I am on my feet quite a bit and move around often. I also teach at the university I graduated from and include a slide in my opening class asking students if any of them wonder what the thing is on my head.
My hesitations and fears concerning returning to work while using Optune were put to rest very quickly. Using Optune while working in an office job is just as easy as using it at home once you get used to incorporating it into your daily routine. However, this was just my experience and yours may be different. If you are committed to making it work, then you can work while using Optune! I am truly grateful to my employer for their flexibility and willingness to work with me and I appreciate nCompass® for their support and materials whenever I need them.
Topics: Daily Life with Optune
By Joey, 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.