Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a malignant brain tumor; it is a grade-4 astrocytoma. It’s a very aggressive type of brain cancer that grows and spreads quickly to other parts of the brain.
It’s a primary brain tumor, which means it starts in the brain – it didn’t metastasize (spread) from a cancer that began elsewhere in the body. Glioblastoma begins in the star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes.
The cause of glioblastoma is unknown. This cancer is a type of glioma, or brain tumor, but references to “a glioma” usually refers to glioblastoma specifically.
Currently, there is no cure for glioblastoma, but there are a variety of treatments available that can delay progression and extend the patient’s life.
Symptoms of Glioblastoma Multiforme
The symptoms of glioblastoma can vary depending on the location and size of the brain tumor. Some of the most common symptoms associated with glioblastoma are the following:
- Headaches – Glioblastoma can cause severe and long-lasting headaches that return frequently.
- Seizures – If a person begins experiencing seizures after a lifetime of never experiencing them before, it may be a sign of a brain tumor.
- Difficulty with the Senses – People with glioblastoma my experience difficulty speaking or slurred speech, sudden difficulty with hearing, and difficulty seeing (double vision, lack of peripheral vision, or blurred vision).
- Personality or Behavioral Changes – If your loved ones notice changes to your personality or behaviors that are starkly different than before, it may indicate a brain tumor. Pay attention to any mention of changes to your personality by others, because you may not be able to recognize them yourself.
- Sporadic Loss of Cognitive Ability – Glioblastoma patients have reported a feeling of “losing it,” extreme loss of concentration, and intermittent difficulty with thinking.
Diagnosis of Brain Cancer
Diagnosing glioblastoma and other brain tumors usually involves a neurologist performing a variety of tests, including having you move your fingers, eyes, and other parts of your body, plus verbal answers to indicate brain function.
The doctor will then order imaging tests that can confirm whether a tumor exists or not. These tests include MRI and CT scans.
Treatments for Glioblastoma
Glioblastoma treatments focus on controlling the growth of the tumor as well as managing symptoms. Depending on the location and size of a glioblastoma tumor, doctors may recommend a combination of treatments geared toward unique aspects of a patient’s condition.
The treatment options for glioblastoma include the following:
The first attempt to control glioblastoma is to remove as much of the tumor as possible through surgery. This is called tumor resection surgery.
Depending on the location and size of the glioblastoma tumor, doctors may be able to remove significant portions of it. Surgery may not be a viable option if the tumor is located in a hard-to-reach location of the brain or if too much damage would be done to adjacent healthy brain tissue.
Radiation and Chemotherapy
Radiation and/or chemotherapy can be used to control further growth of the tumor. Because glioblastoma grows and spreads quickly in the brain, radiation can be particularly helpful in controlling its growth. Radiation is typically paired with chemotherapy in treating this cancer.
Neurosurgery in Colorado
If you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing signs or symptoms like the ones mentioned above, it’s critical that you see a medical professional who can examine and diagnose you properly. Early diagnosis is essential for any kind of cancer, including glioblastoma.
The neurosurgeons at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery have decades of experience treating neurological conditions, including brain cancer. Call (303) 790-1800 today to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online. We can provide the optimal treatment for your neurological condition.