There are several core elements of glioblastoma therapy, which differ depending on whether the glioblastoma is newly-diagnosed (de novo) or recurrent.
Surgery aims to remove as much tumor mass as possible (resection). In certain cases, e.g., if the position of a tumor makes it unsuitable for surgery, a biopsy (tumor tissue sample) will be taken for further analysis.
This type of therapy is used after a resection/biopsy. High-energy radiation is directed at the tumor, and this may lead to the death of tumor cells. This outpatient treatment takes several weeks.
This therapy uses medications that frequently include the active substance temozolomide (TMZ) to kill the tumor cells. In most cases, chemotherapy is used together with radiotherapy and continues to be administered in monthly cycles after radiotherapy.
Tumor Treating Fields (Optune)
Optune is a wearable therapy consisting of a device that produces alternating electric fields called Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields). TTFields may slow or stop the division of glioblastoma cells. This is a non-invasive local therapy that is directed towards the cancer cells that are dividing in the brain, and it does not usually damage inactive cells, based on our current level of knowledge. As a rule, Optune is used to treat newly-diagnosed glioblastomas, and temozolomide (TMZ) is simultaneously administered as maintenance chemotherapy.
Treatment of recurrent glioblastomas
Despite intensive therapy, it is usually not possible to reach all glioblastoma cells, meaning that some of these cells will grow back over time. If a glioblastoma starts growing again after initial therapy, it is referred to as a “recurrent glioblastoma”. Glioblastomas almost always recur, so it is important to treat the newly-diagnosed glioblastoma as effectively as possible with the attending physician at an early stage. There is no standard form of treatment for recurrent glioblastoma. Optune can also be used if a glioblastoma recurs.
To learn more about treating a newly-diagnosed or recurrent glioblastoma, please contact your doctor.