Glioblastoma, or GBM, is a type of primary brain cancer. This means that GBM tumors begin in the brain, rather than starting in another part of the body and traveling to the brain. GBM is the most common type of primary brain cancer in adults.
Dennis, an Optune® user and Patient Ambassador
Who gets GBM?
You or your loved one’s diagnosis may have been the first time you heard about GBM. Because of this, it may seem like GBM is rare compared with other types of cancer. But you are not alone.
Behind the Mystery: Glioblastoma
Learn more about glioblastoma, or GBM, a rare tumor found in the brain that can be difficult to treat.
What part of the brain does GBM affect?
Most people get GBM tumors in their cerebral hemispheres. These are 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.
What symptoms does GBM cause?
GBM rarely spreads to other areas of the body. But GBM tumors can grow quickly in the brain. Because of this, you may have noticed symptoms that appear suddenly, as if out of nowhere.
As a GBM tumor grows, it can put pressure on the brain. This can cause:
Depending on the location of the tumor, GBM can also interfere with how the brain controls other parts of the body. This can lead to:
The difference between newly diagnosed GBM and recurrent GBM
Newly diagnosed GBM
When a GBM tumor is first confirmed by your doctor, it’s called newly diagnosed GBM. This means that the tumor has not been treated previously.
Recurrent GBM is when GBM has come back after a period of time and a GBM tumor is visible on your MRI. Prior treatments may have removed or destroyed most GBM tumor cells. But some cancerous cells may remain and continue to grow. That’s because of the location of the tumor and the "finger-like tentacles" of a GBM tumor that may spread across the brain, making it difficult for treatment to reach all GBM cells.
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.