Glioblastoma: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Glioblastoma is a type of brain cancer. This is the most common type of malignant brain tumor among adults. This condition is formed from cells called astrocytes that support nerve cells. Glioblastoma can occur at any age, but tends to occur more frequently in older people.

What is Glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma disease also known as glioblastoma multiforme is a condition that is very difficult to treat and healing is often impossible. Even so treatments can slow the progression of cancer and reduce symptoms.

These malignant tumors originate in astrocytes, star-shaped cells that feed and support nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. However, glioblastoma can contain various types of brain cells including dead brain cells. About 12 to 15 percent of brain tumor sufferers suffer from glioblastoma.

Symptoms of Glioblastoma

Because glioblastoma brain tumors grow rapidly, pressure on the brain is the first symptom that appears. Depending on where the tumor is located, it can cause:

  • Constant headache
  • Convulsions
  • Throw up
  • Hard to think
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Double vision or blurred
  • Difficulty speaking

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

Consult a doctor immediately if you experience symptoms as above.

Causes of Glioblastoma

Until now, doctors did not know what caused glioblastoma. Like other cancers, the condition starts when cells begin to grow uncontrollably and form tumors. This cell growth may have something to do with gene changes.

Risk Factors

There are several factors that can increase your risk of a brain tumor. Some of these factors, including:

  • Age

Your risk of developing a brain tumor increases with age. Glioblastoma is most common in those between the ages of 45 and 65 years. However, this condition can occur at any age. Certain types of glioblastoma, such as ependymomas and pilocytic astrocytomas, are more common in children and young adults.

  • Radiation Exposure

People who have been exposed to ionizing radiation have a higher risk of developing brain tumors. Examples of ionizing radiation include radiation therapy used to treat cancer and radiation exposure caused by atomic bombs.

More common forms of radiation, such as electromagnetic fields from power lines and radio frequency radiation have not been shown to increase the risk of brain tumors.

  • Family History

Having a family history of this condition can double the risk of developing it. Some genes are weakly linked, but further studies are needed to confirm the relationship between this genetic variation and brain tumors.

Diagnosis of Glioblastoma

Tests and procedures used to diagnose glioblastoma include:

  • Neurological examination

During a neurological examination, the doctor will ask about the signs and symptoms that occur. He can check eyesight, hearing, balance, coordination, strength, and reflexes. Problems with one or more of these areas can provide clues about parts of the brain that can be affected by brain tumors.

  • Imaging Test

Imaging tests can help doctors determine the location and size of brain tumors. The MRI method is often used to diagnose brain tumors, and can be used in conjunction with special MRI imaging, such as functional MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Other imaging tests may include CT and positron emission tomography (PET).

  • Biopsy

Biopsy can be done before surgery or during surgery to remove the tumor, depending on the specific situation and location of the tumor. Suspicious tissue samples are analyzed in a laboratory to determine cell type and aggressiveness.

Specific tumor cell tests can tell your doctor what types of mutations your cell gets. This method provides instructions to the doctor about the prognosis and can guide treatment options.

Glioblastoma type

Here are two types of glioblastoma that you should know about, among them

  • Primary is the most common and most aggressive type of glioblastoma.
  • Secondary glioblastoma is a rare type and slower growth. This condition usually starts from low-grade astrocytoma, less aggressive. Most people who get this type of cancer are 45 years or younger.

This condition often grows in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. In addition, this condition can also be found in the brain stem, cerebellum, other parts of the brain, and spinal cord.

Glioblastoma Treatment

The goal of treatment is to slow down and control tumor growth and help a person live comfortably and as well as possible. Here are the treatments that can be done, including:

  • Palliative Care

Palliative care is something that is important for anyone who has a serious illness. This includes treating the pain and emotions that you might face. This method aims to improve the quality of life. Ask your doctor if there are clinical trials that are suitable for this condition.

  • Chemotherapy

Temozolomide is the most common chemotherapy drug used by doctors for glioblastoma. Carmustine (BCNU) and lomustine (CCNU) are other chemotherapy drugs that might be used.

  • Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy with bevacizumab can be given if chemotherapy has not been effective.

  • Convection-Enhanced Delivery (CED)

CEDs use pumps to release slow and continuous flow of chemotherapy, or targeted therapy to tumors.

  • Electric Field Therapy

Electric field therapy uses an electric field to target cells in a tumor by not hurting normal cells. To do this, the doctor places electrodes directly on the scalp. This device is called Optune. You get it with chemotherapy after surgery and radiation. The Food and Drug Administration has approved this method for newly diagnosed people and people whose glioblast reappear.

  • Wafer Therapy (Gliadel)

This method uses implanted, biodegradable discs, which then release chemotherapy to the cancerous tissue that remains after surgery.

  • Nanoparticle Therapy

This therapy uses small particles to carry chemotherapy directly into the tumor. You might also be able to get experimental treatments or oral chemotherapy that you can do at home. In some people, this treatment helps reduce symptoms and reduce the risk of cancer.

Complications of Glioblastoma

If left untreated, this malignant tumor can continue to grow and spread through the brain. This condition can cause ongoing functional loss and increase intracranial pressure. Seizures, personality changes, and unstable moods are things that can happen

Even so, complications can still occur even though you have received treatment. Here are some complications that can occur:

  • Depression
  • Relapse
  • Side effects of steroid treatment to relieve brain swelling, such as insomnia, increased risk of infection, weight gain, and mood swings
  • Side effects of treatment, such as an increased risk of infection or bleeding due to chemotherapy and changes in brain function from surgery and radiation

Because glioblastoma is an aggressive cancer that tends to recur, survival is usually less than a year, even with treatment.

Prevention of Glioblastoma

There is no known way to prevent this condition. Some risk factors can increase a person’s chance of developing this condition including radiation therapy to the brain and certain congenital abnormalities.

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