What is glioblastoma?
Glioblastoma is a rare type of astrocytoma, a cancer that forms in the brain from star-shaped astrocyte cells. While this cancer usually begins in the cerebrum in adults, glioblastoma tumors are capable of making their own blood supply, which helps them grow. Thus, they are usually highly malignant (cancerous).
About 20% of all brain tumors are diagnosed as glioblastomas, with men more susceptible to develop them than women.
What causes glioblastoma?
The cause of the cancerous cells is unclear in most cases of glioblastoma, but some risk factors of glioblastoma include certain preexisting genetic disorders or previous radiation therapy.
What are the symptoms of glioblastoma?
Since glioblastomas grow quickly, initial pressure on the brain causes the first symptoms of the disease. The following are common symptoms of glioblastoma, and they depend on where specifically the tumor is.
- Trouble thinking or speaking
- Changes in mood
- Persistent headaches
- Double or blurred vision
How is glioblastoma diagnosed?
Glioblastoma is usually diagnosed by a neurologist. He/she will give a complete clinical exam, most likely alongside some additional testing, depending on specific symptoms. A CT scan, MRI scan, and tissue biopsy are usually completed.
What are the available treatments for glioblastoma?
There are four treatment options available (often in combination) that can slow and control tumor growth, thus improving the patient’s quality of life.
- Surgery to remove the tumor and relieve pressure on the brain
- Radiation to kill leftover cancer cells or slow the growth of tumors that can’t be removed by surgery
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Electric-field therapy to target cancer cells while avoiding normal cells
Glioblastomas often regrow after initial treatment, but there are many different forms of the previous treatment options that can combat a recurrence.