Taking Road Trips With Optune®
By Lynn and Larry, Optune Ambassadors • 3 min read
Alternative travel plans
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, air travel was out of the question for us. So, my wife and I had to come up with an alternative plan. For a while, we didn't feel comfortable staying in hotels or eating in restaurants, so a road trip would be a challenge—that is, until we decided to rent a small RV to travel to Michigan. That way we would have everything we needed with us. We packed up our clothing, our food, and the Optune supplies and camped our way from suburban Philadelphia to suburban Detroit in about 10 days. We reserved campsites in advance to make sure we could connect to electricity.
Scoping out the necessities
When choosing the RV, it was important to check what type of power it had, how many outlets there were in the vehicle, and where it would be comfortable for Lynn to sleep with Optune. We also checked where the battery charger would be plugged in and where the wall outlet would be. We took all the batteries we had, the battery charger, and enough arrays for as many changes we thought we would need plus some extra. nCompass®, Novocure's support program, will send any supplies that are needed for travel. We made sure we had ample space to change the arrays inside the RV.
In February 2022, we planned a much longer road trip—from suburban Philadelphia to Key West and back—for 23 days. We took this trip by car because, by then, we were more comfortable staying in hotels. Still not comfortable eating indoors at restaurants, we had to pack our food again. We reserved hotels ahead of time in several cities along the way, making sure that each place we stayed in would have a refrigerator and a microwave. We also had to make sure the electric outlets were near the bed so Optune could be plugged in overnight. It was key for us to check out the space ahead of time to see if it was comfortable enough for array changes. Because of all the supplies we had to carry in and out at each stop, we stayed at each hotel for at least two nights. We planned our stays to be in areas that we wanted to explore during the day, so the two-night stays made that more convenient as well.
Planning and preparation
When taking a road trip, it's very important to plan ahead. Be sure to have enough batteries, arrays, and any other supplies you need. Make sure you can connect to electricity wherever you stop, so that you can recharge batteries. When we travel, we like to drive only about five hours per day so we aren't totally exhausted by the evening.
When we take shorter day trips, we make sure to have several charged batteries with us in the car. The fully charged batteries last about two to three hours so the distance we are driving determines how many we take with us for the day. In fact, we always keep at least one charged battery in the car in case of emergency, even if we are staying close to home. Lynn does not take extra breaks from Optune because we are traveling. We schedule array changes around the activities that we do, such as swimming or boating. Our philosophy is simple—when Lynn uses the device, it's working and when it's off, it's not.
With good planning, road trips are very doable with Optune. Just don't forget your shower cap!
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.