Alternating electric fields (tumor-treating fields therapy) can improve chemotherapy treatment efficacy in non-small cell lung cancer both in vitro and in vivo

Semin Oncol. 2014 Oct;41 Suppl 6:S35-41. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2014.09.006. Epub 2014 Sep 8.


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Common treatment modalities for NSCLC include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and, in recent years, the clinical management paradigm has evolved with the advent of targeted therapies. Despite such advances, the impact of systemic therapies for advanced disease remains modest, and as such, the prognosis for patients with NSCLC remains poor. Standard modalities are not without their respective toxicities and there is a clear need to improve both efficacy and safety for current management approaches. Tumor-treating fields (TTFields) are low-intensity, intermediate-frequency alternating electric fields that disrupt proper spindle microtubule arrangement, thereby leading to mitotic arrest and ultimately to cell death. We evaluated the effects of combining TTFields with standard chemotherapeutic agents on several NSCLC cell lines, both in vitro and in vivo. Frequency titration curves demonstrated that the inhibitory effects of TTFields were maximal at 150 kHz for all NSCLC cell lines tested, and that the addition of TTFields to chemotherapy resulted in enhanced treatment efficacy across all cell lines. We investigated the response of Lewis lung carcinoma and KLN205 squamous cell carcinoma in mice treated with TTFields in combination with pemetrexed, cisplatin, or paclitaxel and compared these to the efficacy observed in mice exposed only to the single agents. Combining TTFields with these therapeutic agents enhanced treatment efficacy in comparison with the respective single agents and control groups in all animal models. Together, these findings suggest that combining TTFields therapy with chemotherapy may provide an additive efficacy benefit in the management of NSCLC.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Glutamates / administration & dosage
  • Guanine / administration & dosage
  • Guanine / analogs & derivatives
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Pemetrexed
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Glutamates
  • Pemetrexed
  • Guanine
  • Paclitaxel
  • Cisplatin