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May 11, 2023

Optune: Revolutionizing Treatment for Glioblastoma Patients | Janice’s Journey

by Brianna Rauchman

Follow Janice’s journey with brain cancer and her participation in the Optune clinical trial. Discover the innovative Tumor Treating Fields (TTF) therapy and how it effectively balances tumor treatment with quality of life. Gain expert insights from neuro-oncologist Akanksha Sharma, MD.

Janice Joins the Optune Clinical Trial for Glioblastoma

Meet Janice, a 31-year-old woman originally from Germany, who now resides in Los Angeles. In August 2021, she received a difficult diagnosis of glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor originating in the brain’s glial cells. Under the expert guidance of Akanksha Sharma, MD, a neuro-oncologist at the Pacific Brain Tumor Center, Janice chose to participate in a groundbreaking clinical trial involving Optune

Understanding Optune: The Power of Tumor Treating Fields 

Woman wearing Optune Tumor Treating Fields for Glioblastoma. Image courtesy of Novocure.
Disclaimer: The image shown here has been sourced
from Novocure. Please note that this image is for illustrative
purposes only and does not imply affiliation with Novocure.

Janice enrolled in the TRIDENT trial, led by Novocure, the creators of Optune. Optune, also known as Tumor Treating Fields (TTF), has gained FDA approval as a treatment for high-grade glioma. The revolutionary therapy employs external arrays worn on the head, emitting electrical fields that effectively slow tumor growth.  

Notably, these fields target actively dividing tumor cells while sparing healthy cells. Dr. Sharma emphasizes the extensive research and rigorous clinical trials that have unequivocally demonstrated the safety and efficacy of Optune.

The initial data showed that it helped patients in terms of improving their survival significantly when they were diagnosed with glioma. And so, it is approved, it is safe, it does not affect healthy brain tissue.

Dr. Sharma

Janice’s Concerns About her Quality of Life

Initially, Janice expressed concerns about the potential impact of Optune on her day-to-day life. As an active individual, she worried about physical limitations and the constant presence of arrays on her head. Everyday activities, such as sleeping, posed unforeseen challenges. Moreover, she felt apprehensive about her appearance and its effects on her relationship with her husband. 

Support and Resources for Living with Optune  

Optune Tumor Treating Fields. Image courtesy of Novocure.
Disclaimer: The image shown here has been sourced
from Novocure. Please note that this image is for illustrative
purposes only and does not imply affiliation with Novocure.

Ultimately, the unwavering support from her husband and friends played a pivotal role in helping Janice overcome obstacles.  Janice fondly remarks, “My husband helps me put on the arrays, I can do it by myself, but it takes more time…every time he puts them on, he is like, ‘Ah, this is a masterpiece, look at this piece of art.’”

In addition, Novocure provides valuable resources to support patients on their treatment journeys. Janice speaks highly of Novocure, describing them as “super responsive and super friendly.” She appreciates their proactive outreach, ensuring that she never feels overlooked. Janice’s resilience and positive mindset play a crucial role in helping her adapt to the changes and find the positive aspects along her journey. 

Creative Solutions for Balancing Optune Usage with Personal Activities 

While Janice remains adaptable, she continues to face the ongoing struggle of balancing Optune usage with her desired activities. For Optune’s optimal benefits, the device should be worn for a sizable portion of the day. However, she has learned to strike a harmonious balance. 

Outdoors camping tent and campfire

Janice gradually adapted to a new routine and found innovative ways to address the challenges posed by Optune. For example, she discovered that wearing a hat effectively shielded Optune from sunlight, thus preventing any over-heating warning beeping sounds. Additionally, she planned a camping trip and packed additional batteries provided by Novocure, ensuring uninterrupted treatment during her adventure. 

Janice faced several challenges during the initial adjustment period, but she managed to overcome them by implementing practical solutions and adapting to her circumstances. Dr. Sharma emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between treatment and personal enjoyment, assuring patients that Optune provides flexibility and the opportunity to pursue personal fulfillment. 

Janice’s Fresh Lease on Life

Janice excels in her fast-paced role in consulting. Beyond her professional success, she enjoys walking her dog, spending quality time with her husband, and pursuing new travel adventures. To learn more about Janice’s  journey, we invite you to watch her discussion with Dr. Sharma in this webinar. 

About Dr. Akanksha Sharma

Akanksha Sharma MD

Akanksha Sharma, MD, is board certified in neurology, neuro-oncology and palliative medicine. She is experienced in the treatment of primary/metastatic brain tumors, neurological complications of cancer, and disease-related burden and symptoms. Her clinical and research interests lie in helping patients maximize their time and quality of life. She aims to align treatment with patient goals and to provide holistic care that includes careful symptom assessment and management, as well as support for the patient’s loved ones.

For more information about the Pacific Brain Tumor Center:

PNI – South Bay: 424-212-5361
PNI – Santa Monica: 310-582-7450
PNI – Burbank: 818-847-6049

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About the Author

Brianna Rauchman

Brianna Rauchman, BA, is the Communications Coordinator for the Lifestyle Program, where she helps develop outreach strategies to connect with an expanding audience. Her responsibilities include providing launch support, developing content, assisting with collateral design, and planning social media strategies.

Last updated: May 30th, 2023