Treatment for glioblastoma (GBM)
Intended for US audiences only.
Optune® Novocure™

What is glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma, also called glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, is a type of primary brain cancer. This means that GBM tumors begin in the brain, rather than traveling to the brain from other parts of the body, such as the lungs or breasts. 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 like GBM is rare when you compare it with lung cancer or breast cancer. But you are not alone.


Around 12,500 new cases of GBM tumors, or other brain tumors that may eventually transform into GBM, may be diagnosed in the United States each year GBM is more likely to appear in older adults. It is also more likely to affect men more than women.

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.


Most people get GBM tumors in their cerebral hemispheres.

What kind 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 are a variety of approaches available to treat 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. National Cancer Institute. What you need to know about brain tumors. http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/brain.pdf. Published February 2009. Accessed August 25, 2015. NIH Publication No. 09-1558.
2. National Brain Tumor Society. Grade IV - Glioblastoma (GBM). http://braintumor.org/brain-tumor-information/understanding-brain-tumors/tumor-types/#glioblastoma-multiforme. Accessed August 25, 2015.
3. 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 Oncol (2015) 17 (suppl 4): iv1-iv62 doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nov189.
4. American Brain Tumor Association. Glioblastoma. http://www.abta.org/understanding-brain-tumors/types-of-tumors/glioblastoma.html. Accessed August 25, 2015.

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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:

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.

Patient Journey videos on this site and all images labeled as Optune users or caregivers depict actual patients and caregivers. All other depictions of patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals are actor portrayals.


Indications For Use

Optune is intended as a treatment for adult patients (22 years of age or older) with histologically-confirmed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).