New Brain Cancer Treatment

A new treatment option offered by Radiation Oncology at both Mercy Hospital St. Louis and Mercy Hospital Washington could help extend the life of newly-diagnosed brain tumor patients.

Patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer, now have an additional tool that works along with chemotherapy and radiation.

Nearly 23,000 Americans will be diagnosed with brain or other nervous system cancers in 2015, according to the National Cancer Institute, and more than 15,000 die from those cancers. Glioblastoma multiforme accounts for about 15 percent of all brain tumors, and typically occurs in adults ages 45 to 70. Patients survive less than 15 months on average following diagnosis, because the tumor tends to be highly resistant to standard treatments.

“The treatment provides an exciting option for patients with glioblastoma,” said radiation oncologist Matthew Johnson, M.D. Recent studies report that patients lived longer when Optune was added to standard treatments, and represents an innovative advance in glioblastoma treatment.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved an expanded use of the Optune device to treat patients with newly- diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme. Optune was initially approved in 2011 to treat patients with a recurrent or progressive form of this brain cancer, but can now be used as part of standard treatment given when a patient is first diagnosed.

The treatment is given along with chemotherapy following standard treatments that include surgery, and radiation therapy and chemotherapy used together.

Electrodes are placed on the patient’s scalp to deliver low-intensity, alternating electrical fields called “tumor treatment fields.” The electrical fields target the tumor identified on the MRI and interfere with the ability of the rapidly dividing cells to multiply. The electrical fields do not impact normal brain tissue, and the treatment was well-tolerated by patients in the study, causing fewer side effects than many other cancer treatments.

We are excited to be one of only two centers in the region certified to offer Optune.To learn more or to make an appointment, call us at 314-251-4800.