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28

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Brain Cancer – Gliomas, Version 1.2016

2

Test and treatment overview Alternating electric field therapy | Clinical trials

Alternating electric field therapy

Alternating electric field therapy is a cancer treatment

that uses low-intensity electromagnetic energy. It is

also called TTFields (

T

umor

T

reating

Fields

). This

treatment may be an option for glioblastomas. Read

Part 3 to learn when it is an option.

TTFields disrupt the process by which cells make

copies of themselves. This approach relies on the

theory that no new cancer cells are made. Existing

cancer cells also die.

Treatment will be received through 4 patches safely

taped to your scalp. You will have to shave your

head. The patches will be attached to an energy-

producing device and a battery that can be carried

with you. As such, you will be able to go home and

do most daily activities. The patches are worn for at

least 18 hours a day for at least 4 weeks. The most

common side effect is skin irritation.

Clinical trials

New tests and treatments aren’t offered to the

public as soon as they’re made. They first need

to be studied. A clinical trial is a type of research

that studies a test or treatment in people. Joining a

clinical trial is encouraged.

Clinical trials study how safe and helpful tests and

treatments are for people. When found to be safe

and helpful, they may become tomorrow’s standard

of care. Because of clinical trials, the tests and

treatments in this book are now widely used to help

people with glioma. Future tests and treatments that

may have better results than today’s treatments will

depend on clinical trials.

New tests and treatments go through a series of

clinical trials to make sure they’re safe and work.

Without clinical trials, there is no way to know if a

test or treatment is safe or helpful. Clinical trials have

four phases. Some examples of the four phases for

treatment are:

†

†

Phase I

trials aim to find the best dose of a new

drug and the best way to give it with the fewest

side effects. These trials often involve about 20

people.

†

†

Phase II

trials assess if a drug works for a

specific type of cancer.

†

†

Phase III

trials compare a new drug to the

standard treatment. These trials often involve

hundreds or thousands of people.

†

†

Phase IV

trials test new drugs approved by the

U.S. FDA (

F

ood and

D

rug

A

dministration) in

many patients with different types of cancer.

Joining a clinical trial has benefits. First, you’ll have

access to the most current cancer care. Second, you

will receive the best management of care. Third, the

results of your treatment—both good and bad—will

be carefully tracked. Fourth, you may help other

people who will have cancer in the future.

Clinical trials have risks, too. Like any test or

treatment, there may be side effects. Also, new tests

or treatments may not help. Another downside may

be that paperwork or more trips to the hospital are

needed.

To join a clinical trial, you must meet the conditions

of the study. Patients in a clinical trial are often alike

in terms of their cancer and general health. This is to

know that any progress is because of the treatment

and not because of differences between patients.