What is Glioblastoma Multiforme

There are two main types of cells in the human brain: neurons and glial cells that transmit information that provide nutritional support and nerve cells. Primitive brain tumors, meaning tumors that originate in the brain may develop both in neurons and glial cells. Glioma (cancer of glial cells) is the most common type of primitive brain tumor, accounting for approximately one third of all diagnosed cases.

 

Glioblastoma (or glioblastoma multiforme, GBM) is the most common and most aggressive of all types of gliomas. In general, the GBM is located in the main lobes of the brain (otherwise known as cerebral hemispheres), but can be also found in other brain regions. Most glioblastoamas are diagnosed only when they are in an advanced stage. They can invade healthy brain areas, but very rarely will invade other areas outside the nervous system. Usually tumor recurs after treatment, most commonly about 2 cm from the original lesion site and 10% may develop lesions in remote areas.

Incidence:

In the U.S., approximately 9,000 people are diagnosed annually with GBM.

In patients with newly diagnosed GBM, the current standard treatment provides a medium overall survival rate of about 1 year after diagnosis. Without treatment, median survival is 3 months. In patients with recurrent GBM the prognosis is extremely poor.

Almost all patients with GBM die within five years after diagnostic.

Risk Factors

Age: Although it can occur at any age, average age at diagnosis is 64 years old.

Radiation: There is some evidence that exposure to radiation (e.g., prior radiotherapy to the head) may increase the risk of developing GBM.

Hereditary factors: Most GBM occur spontaneously without an identifiable cause, although there is an increasing incidence of GBM in families with a rare hereditary disorder called Li-Fraumeni syndrome, whose incidence and prevalence are not known.

Symptoms

Increased pressure in the brain (increased intracranial pressure) is often a symptom of GBM. GBM symptoms may also include: headache, vomiting and visual disturbances, changes in behavior and personality, progressive loss of memory.

Management of glioblastoma multiforme

the prognosis for patients with GBM is very poor. GBM treatment options depend on many factors, including the location and size of the tumor, overall health and age.

Surgery: If the tumor is located in a brain region from which it can be removed without risking damage to the brain itself or its subsequent function, usually doctors perform surgery to remove as much as possible of the tumor.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is usually performed after surgery, with the aim of controlling tumor growth. However, not all patients are candidates for radiotherapy.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy has limited progress in the treatment of GBM. Although chemotherapy has proven to be quite effective in treating certain types of tumors, it does not distinguish between healthy cells and those affected by cancer. There are therefore many side effects associated with chemotherapy.

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