Electric Fields Therapy Improves Survival for Patients with Brain Tumor

Bottom Line: Patients with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor who received a type of electric fields therapy that interferes with cell division had better overall survival and survival without progression of the tumor compared to standard chemotherapy.
 
Why The Research Is Interesting: Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain tumor, with only 1 in 4 patients surviving two years after diagnosis. There has been little progress in treating these tumors. Tumor-treating fields (TTFields) are a type of electric fields therapy that interferes with cell division by delivering low-intensity electric fields to the tumor through electrodes on the scalp and connected to a portable device.
 
Who and When: 695 patients with glioblastoma whose tumor was surgically removed or biopsied and who had completed chemotherapy. Patients were enrolled in the study from 2009-2014 and followed up through 2016.
 
What: Patients were treated with either TTFields plus the chemotherapy drug temozolomide (n = 466) or temozolomide alone (n = 229). Researchers measured survival without progression of the tumor and overall survival.
 
How (Study Design): This was a randomized clinical trial (RCT), which allows for the strongest inferences to be made about the true effect of an intervention. However, not all RCT results can be replicated in real-world settings because patient characteristics or other variables may differ from those that were studied in the RCT.
 
Authors: Roger Stupp, M.D., Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and coauthors
 
Results: The addition of TTFields to chemotherapy vs chemotherapy alone resulted in improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival.
 
 
Study Limitations: Participants and researchers knew of the treatments because it was not feasible practically and it was ethically unacceptable to expose patients to a sham device.
 
Featured Image:
 
What The Image Shows: The improved rate of progression-free survival (panel A) and overall survival (panel B) of TTFields plus chemotherapy vs chemotherapy alone. (Click on the image for a full-size version. Right click to “save image as” to download.)
 
Related material: The following related elements also are available on the For The Media website:
 
JAMA previously published the interim analysis of this RCT.
For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.
 
(doi:10.1001/jama.2017.18718)