Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common primary (i.e. originating in the brain) brain tumor affecting adults. It is a type of high-grade astrocytoma, which is a tumor that originates from cells that support the brain called astrocytes. Unfortunately, glioblastoma multiforme is one of the most malignant brain tumors. It usually grows rapidly and spreads easily into other parts of the brain and central nervous system. It can also metastasize into other parts of the body, such as the lungs, lymph nodes, or bones. It represents about 30% of all primary brain tumors in adults, and about 9% of childhood brain tumors. Although these tumors can occur at any age, they are most common in adults over the age of 50.
As with any brain tumor, the most common symptoms of GBM are seizures, headaches, and neurological changes, such as memory loss, behavioral changes, or personality changes. Some patients experience nausea and vomiting, while a few experience such high pressures in the brain that they go into a coma. As the tumor grows, patients may lose certain bodily functions linked to the location of the tumor.
If you have symptoms of a brain tumor, we will perform a neurological evaluation, which checks eye movement and vision, hearing, sensation, reflexes, balance and coordination, motor skills, thinking and memory. We will then perform radiographic studies such as a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests can confirm the presence of a tumor and provide clues about the tumor’s size type and location. Sometimes additional tests such as x-rays, cerebral angiogram, or a spinal tap may be necessary. Depending on the tumor and your condition, we may also perform a stereotactic biopsy to diagnose the tumor tissue more exactly.
Treatment options for glioblastoma multiforme depend on the size and location of the tumor, and may include surgical removal, radiosurgery, brachytherapy (radiation implants), and chemotherapy. By the time the tumor is first diagnosed, it may have already spread deep into the brain, and sometimes cannot be treated with surgery. Even when surgery is an option, it is unfortunately rare for the tumor to be completely removed by surgery. Often neurosurgeons will recommend radiation treatment following surgery to hinder the further growth of the tumor. Even with aggressive treatment, the tumor almost always recurs within several months.
While there is no long-term cure for this type of cancer, we are committed to providing compassionate care utilizing the most effective technologies to treat patients. You can be certain that we will walk with you each step of the way.