Manning the mountains with Optune®
By Scott, Optune Patient Ambassador • 2 min read
Navigating a routine on the slopes
When I was diagnosed with GBM, I knew I didn’t want to let it keep me from doing the things I like to do. Optune has been an excellent treatment option for me, and I have been using Optune for more than two years. During this time, I have been able to continue one of my favorite activities—downhill skiing!
I knew I wanted to get back to being as active as I was prior to my diagnosis, so I had to find a way to carry the device while skiing. Through trial and error, I finally found a comfortable way to carry the device and I like to wear a coat large enough to zip up over
it to protect it. The more secure the device is, the better, and when it’s secured, Optune does not impede my movement.
Explaining Optune to others
People might not expect to see someone skiing while using a device like Optune on their head, and believe me, heads do turn! For those who ask, I like to say that Optune is a small, portable device that helps treat my cancer.
My wife and I were out to eat one morning, and a little girl came up to me and asked if I had a boo-boo on my head. It was such a sweet moment, and I tried to explain it to her the best I could. It’s like an icebreaker at this point, but I don’t mind it at all!
Advice from my doctors, and me!
My healthcare team told me I could still ski while using Optune but advised me to be very careful. They do not object as long as I stay safe on the slopes. My doctor recommended I wear a larger-sized helmet over my arrays while I ski, which is very important in order to keep them protected and dry, since the arrays can’t get wet.
My recommendation to others who might share a similar passion for skiing—or any other outdoor sport—is to not let the device hinder your enjoyment. I believe skiing or any other form of physical activity can be beneficial to a person’s well-being. However, it’s essential to find what works best for you! I strongly encourage you to talk to your doctor if you are unsure of what you may or may not be able to do while treating with Optune.
This diagnosis was very heavy for me, but I like to look at it this way: I have GBM, but GBM doesn’t have me. If you communicate with your doctor about best practices for doing these activities, you may be able to do the things you like to do just as I did!
Important Safety Information
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:
- Your cancer is confirmed by your healthcare professional AND
- You have had surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible
If your tumor has come back, Optune can be used alone as an alternative to standard medical therapy if:
- You have tried surgery and radiation and they did not work or are no longer working AND
- You have tried chemotherapy and your GBM has been confirmed by your healthcare professional
Who should not use Optune?
Optune is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor if you have:
- An implanted medical device (programmable shunt), skull defect (missing bone with no replacement), or bullet fragment. Optune has not been tested in people with implanted electronic devices, which may cause the devices not to work properly, and Optune has not been tested in people with skull defects or bullet fragments, which may cause Optune not to work properly
- A known sensitivity to conductive hydrogels (the gel on the arrays placed on the scalp like the ones used on EKGs). When Optune comes into contact with the skin, it may cause more redness and itching or may rarely cause a life-threatening allergic reaction
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.
- Do not use any parts that did not come with the Optune Treatment Kit sent to you by Novocure or given to you by your doctor
- Do not get the device or transducer arrays wet
- If you have an underlying serious skin condition on the scalp, discuss with your doctor whether this may prevent or temporarily interfere with Optune treatment
What are the possible side effects of Optune?
The 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 for 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.