Gerald J. Glasser Brain Tumor Center Introduce Noninvasive Treatment for Brain Tumor Patients

Doctors at the Gerald J. Glasser Brain Tumor Center have added a new and innovative form of therapy to their treatment arsenal in the battle against glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Affecting nearly 10,000 Americans annually, GBM is the one of the most aggressive and difficult-to-control forms of primary brain tumors in the United States.

Dr. Yaron Moshel explains that the NovoTTF system “introduces an entirely new noninvasive treatment modality that never existed before for patients with brain tumors.” Using a simple set of portable stick-on electrodes, the device delivers low-intensity alternating electrical fields through the scalp. These low-power electrical fields disrupt the multiplication of brain tumor cells by tangling up the process of cell division – which is normally a highly orchestrated intracellular process. The proteins that normally help reshuffle our DNA during cell division carry an electrical charge. The alternating electric fields from the NovoTTF device disrupt the framework made by these charged proteins that tumor cells rely on to copy themselves. By inhibiting the ability of the cancer cells to divide, it causes the eventual death of cancer cells.

NovoTTF system“This portable, wearable device introduces a completely safe, noninvasive treatment option for patients without any of the side effects of chemotherapy,” says Dr. Moshel. Standard treatment for GBM includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and radiosurgery (such as Gamma Knife® or CyberKnife®). These treatments usually control the tumor for one to two years and are associated with the risks of side effects. When glioblastoma recurs, more chemotherapy is typically given. The FDA has so far approved the device for recurrent tumors that have failed standard therapy, and trials are currently underway to determine its utility in upfront treatment.

“We are still learning about the appropriate timing for the NovoTTF system in patients with recurrent GBM,” states Dr. Moshel. “Certainly it becomes an important option for patients who can’t undergo any more surgery or radiation.” What was interesting to learn from the Phase III randomized trial was that electrical field treatment was as effective as chemotherapy in prolonging the lives of patients. But perhaps more impressive, says Dr. Moshel, was that the quality of life measures were significantly better in the NovoTTF group compared to patients who underwent more standard chemotherapy. “By avoiding chemotherapy, patients lived better lives, which is what we are in the business of trying to achieve.”

The Gerald J. Glasser Brain Tumor Center is one of the few centers in the United States whose clinical staff has been trained in the use of this new system. Dr. Yaron A. Moshel, Director of the Gerald J. Glasser Brain Tumor Center, is renowned in treating complex brain tumors and is one of the few neurosurgeons certified to offer this treatment option to New Jersey residents. Our team offers a multidisciplinary approach to treating brain tumors, working in concert with our patients’ established health care professionals and providing cutting-edge patient-tailored treatments.  

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