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Erin Dunbar, M.D.

Optune: A non-invasive treatment for glioblastoma brain tumors

“Glioblastomas are malignant brain tumors that start in the brain and are the most rapidly dividing and most lethal brain tumors,” says Erin Dunbar, M.D., a neuro-oncologist at the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center.

It is considered a whole brain disease.

“There’s the part you can see and the part you cannot see,” Dr. Dunbar explains. “Our goal is to treat the part we can see and also try to drive down the tumor cells we can’t see.”

Why glioblastomas are so difficult to treat

“They’re most difficult to treat because even if you get at the spot that you can see, you are then applying medicine therapy of a whole variety of mechanisms to treat the microscopic cells you can’t see,” she says.

Despite national and international research, glioblastomas are still incurable.

“The art of treating glioblastoma patients is that there is no standard therapy after [tumors] recur on the original chemotherapy,” says Dr. Dunbar. “Here at Piedmont, we are really excited to offer a novel emerging therapy that’s non-invasive and provides a completely new mechanism of how to treat these brain tumors.”

The benefits of Optune

“Optune utilizes the electric polarization of a cell and the unique intracellular matrix to play upon rapidly dividing cells,” she says. “It makes tumors grow slower and drives many of them to cell death.”


  • Is comparable to chemotherapy in its ability to slow tumor growth and increase length of life.
  • Offers improved quality of life and functionality because it has less toxicity than chemotherapy.
  • Is wearable, portable and non-invasive.

“It represents a completely different mechanism of action and emerging technology that may be a new platform for glioblastoma treatment,” says Dr. Dunbar.

*Optune was previously known as NovoTTF. 

Click here to learn about a glioblastoma patient's experience with Optune. 

To learn more about glioblastoma treatment, visit the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center

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