Since receiving formal approval in May 2019, the Optune Lua tumor treating fields device has grown in popularity as a mesothelioma treatment. The list of hospitals and cancer centers offering the device to patients has only gotten longer.
One of the most prestigious cancer centers in the world has joined the list.
Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, the home of a renowned mesothelioma treatment program, is the latest hospital certified to prescribe this treatment device to pleural mesothelioma patients. Moffitt Cancer Center becomes one of nearly 50 medical institutions in the United States offering it.
“We just got through the Institutional Review Board and Scientific Review Committee,” said Dr. Stephen Rosenberg, a mesothelioma radiation oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center. “Probably in the next month or so, we’ll be able to engage patients about this.”
Optune Lua, originally named the NovoTTF-100L System, is rapidly becoming an accessible option for people with this rare cancer.
Why Moffitt Cancer Center Wanted Optune Lua
Many in the mesothelioma treatment community are excited about tumor treating fields, if only because it’s a new option for patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval is explicitly for people with pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that forms in the thin protective lining between the lung cavity and chest wall.
Survival rates for pleural mesothelioma range from a few months to a couple of years, depending on if the patient undergoes surgery. Unfortunately, most aren’t candidates for surgery.
Optune Lua is explicitly for these inoperable patients. The device sends low-intensity electrical currents through the patient’s body. These waves can stop cancer cell division and can eventually kill mesothelioma cells. The device at least slows down the spread of the disease, adding valuable time to patients’ prognosis.
People wear the device on their chest throughout the day, preferably at least 18 hours per day. They can even wear the device while working or sleeping, as the electrical currents and device are barely noticeable.
Dr. Rosenberg said Optune Lua helps fill “an unmet need.” He reiterated that people with mesothelioma have limited treatment options: surgery for a select few; otherwise, it’s chemotherapy and radiation.
“Compared to historical controls, we did see improvement in survival for patients,” he said, adding later that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the treatment and how it benefits patients.
Improved Survival Associated With Tumor Treating Fields
Many have touted those survival benefits that Dr. Rosenberg referenced. In one study:
- Patients survived for a median of 18.2 months
- Nearly 66% of them lived for at least one year
- Close to half survived for at least two years
These survival rates are considerably better than chemotherapy on its own (median of approximately 12 months) or no treatment at all (median of seven months). The only notable complications were skin rashes or irritation. These side effects were mild and temporary.
“There are pillars of treatment for mesothelioma,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “We have surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy.
“I think we will find that tumor treating fields will be a new pillar with further investigation. It’ll be interesting to see how physicians design trials to combine tumor treating fields with other modalities in upcoming clinical studies.”
Dr. Rosenberg concludes that Moffitt Cancer Center is “in discussions” to open clinical trials involving Optune Lua and another staple treatment option in combination with other treatments.
If you’d like to connect with Moffitt Cancer Center, or another cancer center offering the Optune Lua tumor treating fields therapy, please contact our team. Karen Ritter, our expert in all aspects of mesothelioma, can help you find a hospital close to where you live. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources & Author
- Results from STELLAR Trial of Tumor Treating Fields with Chemotherapy in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Published in The Lancet Oncology.BusinessWire. Retrieved from: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191016005264/en/Results-STELLAR-Trial-Tumor-Treating-Fields-Chemotherapy. Accessed: 09/02/20.
Sources & Author