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Glioblastoma multiforme: A type of brain cancer

  • Posted on- Aug 31, 2015
  • 490 Views

A brain tumour is the growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain. Although many growths in the brain are called brain tumours, not all of them are cancerous, some are benign. When a brain tumour turns malignant, it is termed as brain cancer. Malignant tumours grow and spread to other organs of the body very quickly, overpowering healthy cells. Glioblastoma multiforme, is the most common type of primary brain tumour in adults, the astrocytomas. It involves glial cells and has small areas of necrotising tissue surrounded by anaplastic cells and hyperplastic blood vessels.

A glioblastoma multiforme is a high-grade form of astrocytoma. Though anyone can get a glioblastoma, it is commonly seen in 50 years old. Children of 9-10 years, adult males and females are equally likely to get a glioblastoma.

Symptoms related to glioblastoma multiforme

Glioblastoma can develop in any area of the brain, most likely in the largest part of the brain, known as cerebrum. Symptoms of a glioblastoma multiforme in adults depend on the size and location of the tumour. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Seizures
  • Paralysis of an area of the body
  • Changes in behaviour, memory, or thinking abilities
  • Feeling dizzy or off-balance

Children may show different signs and symptoms from adults. These may include:
  • Headache, often upon awakening in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Weakness of an area of the body
  • Irregularities in the neuro-endocrine system
  • Behavioural changes or abnormal thought processes

Diagnosis of Glioblastoma multiforme

Diagnoses of glioblastoma usually involve a neurologist who will review medical history and perform a thorough exam, which includes checking vision, hearing, balance, coordination and reflexes. He/She may suggest some imaging tests such as an MRI, CT, or PET scan of the brain. These tests assist in finding the location of the tumour and its effect on brain functions.

Treatment options for glioblastoma multiforme

Glioblastomas grow and spread rapidly, therefore, treatment should begin at the earliest. There are various treatment options for glioblastoma multiforme which include:
  • Surgery: Surgery is rarely recommended to treat glioblastoma because it is very difficult to remove it completely due to its invasion into the surrounding areas of important brain tissue. There are high risks involved. If it is possible in any case, surgery will be attempted.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation is directed at the brain to attempt to kill the cancerous cells left behind post surgery. Sometimes it is used to shrink the tumour.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves using strong anti-cancer drugs to kill the cancer cells. However, in glioblastoma, they have not been regularly used because they do not appear to improve survival.

Treatments for children with glioblastoma are similar to those for adults. There has been significant progress in the treatment of glioblastoma and survival rates in recent years have gone upwards.