The Evolving Role of Tumor Treating Fields in Managing Glioblastoma: Guide for Oncologists

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Abstract

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a devastating brain tumor with poor prognosis despite advances in surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Survival of patients with glioblastoma remains poor, with only 1 in 4 patients alive at 2 years, and a 5-year survival rate of about 5%. Recurrence is nearly universal and, after recurrence, prognosis is poor with very short progression-free survival and overall survival (OS). Various salvage chemotherapy strategies have been applied with limited success. Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) are a novel treatment modality approved for treatment of either newly diagnosed or recurrent GBM. TTFields therapy involves a medical device and transducer arrays to provide targeted delivery of low intensity, intermediate frequency, alternating electric fields to produce antimitotic effects selective for rapidly dividing tumor cells with limited toxicity. In the phase 3 EF-14 trial, TTFields plus temozolomide provided significantly longer progression-free survival and OS compared with temozolomide alone in patients with newly diagnosed GBM after initial chemoradiotherapy. The addition of TTFields to standard therapy improved median OS from 15.6 to 20.5 months (P=0.04). In the phase 3 EF-11 trial, for recurrent GBM, TTFields provided comparable efficacy as investigator’s choice systemic therapy, with improved patient-reported quality of life and a lower incidence of serious adverse events. Primary toxicity associated with TTFields is skin irritation generally managed with array relocation and topical treatments including antibiotics and steroids. TTFields therapy has demonstrated proven efficacy in management of GBM, including improvement in OS for patients with newly diagnosed GBM, and is under current investigation in other brain and extracranial tumors.

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