Brain tumors present a particular challenge as the risk of harming healthy brain tissue can severely limit doctors' ability to use surgery, radiation or other treatments. Still, researchers are making steady progress to extend survival and improve patients' quality of life. For example, recent genetic discoveries have led to the identification of distinct sub-types of brain tumors, allowing doctors to personalize care to individual patients and providing potential targets for new treatments.
A landmark clinical trial finds that using a novel technology called tumor-treating fields (TTF) – in combination with temozolomide – improves survival for patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma, compared to temozolomide alone. TTF utilizes low-intensity electrical fields, which are delivered through the skin from a device that patients wear on their head. The electrical fields are thought to slow cancer growth by blocking cell division. Based on this research, the FDA expands approval of the first TTF device (Optune) for use in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma in addition to recurrent glioblastoma.