Glioblastoma is a deadly disease and even aggressive neurosurgical resection followed by radiation and chemotherapy only extends patient survival to a median of 1.5 years. The challenge in treating this type of tumor stems from the rapid proliferation of the malignant glioma cells, the diffuse infiltrative nature of the disease, multiple activated signal transduction pathways within the tumor, development of resistant clones during treatment, the blood brain barrier that limits the delivery of drugs into the central nervous system, and the sensitivity of the brain to treatment effect. Therefore, new therapies that possess a unique mechanism of action are needed to treat this tumor. Recently, alternating electric fields, also known as tumor treating fields (TTFields), have been developed for the treatment of glioblastoma. TTFields use electromagnetic energy at an intermediate frequency of 200 kHz as a locoregional intervention and act to disrupt tumor cells as they undergo mitosis. In a phase III clinical trial for recurrent glioblastoma, TTFields were shown to have equivalent efficacy when compared to conventional chemotherapies, while lacking the typical side effects associated with chemotherapies. Furthermore, an interim analysis of a recent clinical trial in the upfront setting demonstrated superiority to standard of care cytotoxic chemotherapy, most likely because the subjects’ tumors were at an earlier stage of clonal evolution, possessed less tumor-induced immunosuppression, or both. Therefore, it is likely that the efficacy of TTFields can be increased by combining it with other anti-cancer treatment modalities.
Wong, E. T., Lok, E., & Swanson, K. D. (2015, August 3). An Evidence-Based Review of Alternating Electric Fields Therapy for Malignant Gliomas. Current Treatment Options in Oncology. Springer New York LLC. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11864-015-0353-5