Glioblastoma is one of the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer where the proliferation of the cancer cells usually happens in the brain and spinal cord. It is extremely fast- growing and spreads easily to various parts of the body. Although it can occur at any age, it is usually diagnosed in older adults. Apart from the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, glioblastomas can also be found in the cerebellum, brain stem, spinal cord and other parts of the brain.
Glioblastoma, also known as glioblastoma multiforme is a grade IV astrocytoma that chiefly forms in the star-shaped glial cells in the brain which are astrocytes and oligodendrocytes that support the nerve cells. In case, glioblastoma is diagnosed in adults, the cancer usually originates in cerebrum. Since these cancer cells have the ability to make their own blood supply, they grow and spread abnormally to quickly invade the surrounding healthy tissue in the brain and other parts of the body.
Glioblastoma is chiefly categorised into two types:
Primary Glioblastoma (de novo): It is the most common and aggressive type of glioblastoma.
Secondary Glioblastoma: It is a lesser common, slow-growing type that affects about 10% of people who are diagnosed with brain cancer. It generally originates from a lower-grade, less aggressive astrocytoma.
Just like any other form of cancer, the exact cause of glioblastoma is yet unknown, but it usually forms when the glial cells in the brain and spinal cord has an abnormal growth spurt. This leads to abnormally shaped cells that do not die and keep accumulating to form tumour-like structures. Although glioblastomas usually happen in the brain and spinal cord but in some cases, it can spread to other parts of the body.
Certain causative factors that increase the risk of glioblastoma includes:
Age: It is more common in older people than younger individuals.
Gender: Men are more prone to glioblastoma than women.
These malignant cells grow and spread very quickly and the signs and symptoms include:
- Constant headaches
- Trouble in speaking
- Trouble while thinking
- Changes in mood or personality
- Double or blurred vision as in the case of glaucoma
- Neck pain
- General debility
Diagnosis And Treatment
On noticing any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, consult a doctor at once to start the treatment at the earliest. The specialized doctor usually does a thorough physical check-up, acknowledges the patient’s family history and past medical history and does a series of diagnostics which include:
Neurological Exam: The doctor asks the patient to move around to analyse the coordination of the neural system while at motion, check the vision, hearing ability, strength and reflexes.
Imaging techniques: This includes CT-scan, MRI-scan, PET-scan and Ultrasound to find the exact position of the tumour and analyse it in detail.
Biopsy: A mass of tissue from the tumorous growth is analysed to determine the types of cells and their level of aggressiveness.
Treatment options usually include a team of doctors consulting to perform the best possible option to bestow the patient with a normal life. Although there is no absolute cure from this diseased condition, treatment procedures may slow the spread of the cancer cells and reduce the signs and symptoms. This includes:
- Surgery to remove the tumour
- Radiation therapy
- Tumor treating fields (TTF) therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
- Clinical trial
- Supportive care