Electric Stimulation Slows Glioblastoma Growth

Consistent delivery of an electric field could drastically increase glioblastoma survival.

A novel device that adheres to a patient’s scalp and delivers low-intensity electricity fields has been found to improve glioblastoma survival and slow tumor growth, according to a recent JAMA study.

The groundbreaking glioblastoma therapy uses tumor-treating fields (TTFields), which are alternating electrical currents transported through insulated electrodes on a patient’s shaved scalp.

The treatment requires patients to wear the device at all times, besides short breaks and weekly electrode changes, according to the study. The electrodes deliver a consistent electrical field to the brain.

Previous studies indicate that the electrical field can block tumor growth and affects cell division, which can result in cancer cell death.

“This trial establishes a new treatment paradigm that substantially improves the outcome in patients with glioblastoma, and which may have applications in many other forms of cancer,” said lead study author Roger Stupp, MD.

In the new study, the authors found that TTFields therapy plus maintenance chemotherapy significantly improved progression-free and overall survival in patients with glioblastoma.

Included in the trial were 695 patients randomized to receive TTFields plus temozolomide or temozolomide monotherapy.

The researchers found that patients who received the constant electrical field had better outcomes compared with patients receiving standard therapy.

The median survival time for patients treated with TTFields therapy was 20.9 months compared with only 16 months for control patients, according to the study.

The authors also found that more patients who received TTFields were alive at 2, 3, and 4 years after diagnosis compared with chemotherapy-treated patients.

The study also showed there was no difference in adverse events between the cohorts besides skin irritation on the scalp for patients treated with TTFields, suggesting it may be a significantly beneficial treatment with few risks, according to the study.

Despite advancements in glioblastoma therapy, many patients still face inadequate treatment and disease progression.

“With TTFields therapy combined with radiation and temozolomide chemotherapy, up to 43% of glioblastoma patients will survive longer than 2 years,” Dr Stupp said. “In a disease where, until 2004, the great majority of patients died within one year, this is yet another example how systematic and interdisciplinary research will benefit patients in everyday care.”