A fast-growing type of central nervous system tumor that forms from glial tissue of the brain and spinal cord. Glioblastoma usually occurs in adults and affects the brain more often than the spinal cord. These tumors are usually highly malignant (cancerous) because the cells reproduce quickly and they are supported by a large network of blood vessels.
|Synonyms||Glioblastoma multiforme, grade IV astrocytoma|
|Coronal MRI with contrast of a glioblastoma WHO grade IV in a 15-year-old male|
|Symptoms||Initially non-specific, headaches, personality changes, nausea, symptoms similar to a stroke|
|Usual onset||~ 64 years old|
|Risk factors||Genetic disorders (neurofibromatosis, Li–Fraumeni syndrome), previous radiation therapy|
|Diagnostic method||CT scan, MRI scan, tissue biopsy|
|Treatment||Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation|
|Prognosis||Life expectancy ~ 14 months with treatment|
|Frequency||3 per 100,000 per year|
Glioblastoma, also known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), is the most aggressive cancer that begins within the brain. Initially, signs and symptoms of glioblastoma are non-specific. They may include headaches, personality changes, nausea, and symptoms similar to those of a stroke. Worsening of symptoms often is rapid. This may progress to unconsciousness.
The cause of most cases is unclear. Uncommon risk factors include genetic disorders such as neurofibromatosis and Li–Fraumeni syndrome, and previous radiation therapy. Glioblastomas represent 15% of brain tumors. They can either start from normal brain cells or develop from an existing low-grade astrocytoma. The diagnosis typically is made by a combination of CT scan, MRI scan, and tissue biopsy.
There is no clear way to prevent the disease. Typically, treatment involves surgery, after which chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used. The medication temozolomide is used frequently as part of chemotherapy. High dose steroids may be used to help reduce swelling and decrease symptoms. It is unclear whether trying to remove all or simply most of the cancer is better.
Despite maximum treatment, the cancer usually recurs. The most common length of survival following diagnosis is 12 to 15 months, with fewer than 3% to 5% of people surviving longer than five years. Without treatment, survival is typically three months. It is the most common cancer that begins within the brain and the second most common brain tumor, after meningioma. About 3 per 100,000 people develop the disease a year. It most often begins around 64 years of age and occurs more commonly in males than females.Immunotherapy is being studied in glioblastoma with promising results.