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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name



Medical Physics

First Advisor

Jacob W. Burmeister


Tumor Treating Fields are a new cancer treatment modality that shows promise in cancers that have historically been difficult to treat with far fewer side effects than standard treatments. Basic insight into physics and cell biology led to the design of a TTF device that produces alternating electric fields which then selectively target cancer cells. This review describes TTF treatment, explains current theories of its mechanism, outlines research progress to date, and proposes avenues for further research. An extensive literature review involved reading initial papers involving TTF as well as those found using searches on PubMed, Google scholar, and the Wayne State University library database with the search terms “TTF”, “Tumor treating Fields,” “TTFields,” and “Alternating Electric Fields Therapy.” An exhaustive review of references listed in these papers added more insight. TTF has shown marked improvement in several endpoints such as Overall Survival (OS) and Progressions Free Survival (PFS) for recurrent and newly diagnosed glioblastoma leading to FDA approval. Similar initial results have been observed in the lung. When TTF is combined with other modalities (Radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgery) outcomes improve even more than either modality alone. Especially noteworthy is the fact that a patient’s quality of life measures significantly higher compared to most other treatment options with minor skin irritation being the most reported. Clinical trials for brain, lung, pancreatic, and other abdominal cancers are ongoing or planned. Though there is still much to be learned and obstacles to widespread clinical implementation, TTF holds the potential to improve the lives of many cancer patients for whom previously there was no hope. Continued research should be encouraged.

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