Glioblastoma is one of the most common yet aggressive cancerous brain tumors. The tumors consist of different cells including astrocyte which is a cell that is a part of the nervous system. The glioblastoma is very cancerous as the cells reproduce rapidly while they have a bundle of blood vessels supporting them. Majority of the tumors are in the brain but they can develop in the spinal cord as well. In addition, this form of tumor is more common in older individuals and more common in men compared to women.
Some of the common symptoms of glioblastomas include headache due to increased pressure placed in the brain, weakness on one side of the body, nausea, seizures, memory difficulty, personality changes and vomiting. If you find you have these symptoms, speak to your healthcare provider to see if you require a diagnosis. Typically, to diagnose an individual, it is conducted through a physical examination using computed tomography (CT) and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
There are 2 types of glioblastomas which are primary or (de novo) or secondary tumors. The primary type of glioblastomas form rapidly and aggressively. The secondary form are a bit slower to grow but still as aggressive. The secondary form is found in people ages 45 or younger as they tend to represent about 10% of glioblastomas.
In regards to treatments, glioblastoma can be difficult to treat as some cells may respond to therapies utilized however some may not. One of the first steps taken is through a surgical procedure to help relieve some of the pressure in the brain and remove as much tumor as possible in a safe manner. It can be difficult to remove the tumor as it can penetrate into the brain where not all of the tumor cannot be removed. In addition, the tumor often grows in regions of the brain that facilitate language and movement/coordination which can impede further challenges.
Furthermore, radiation or chemotherapy can be used to help slow down the growth of the tumors after surgery is conducted or for tumors that cannot be removed surgery. However, when receiving chemotherapy or radiation, it will be helpful to manage your side effects you face. Particularly, if you begin to find your body is reacting differently than what was expected, it is important to note the side effects immediately and speak with your healthcare provider if the symptoms are progressing.
For more information, speak to your healthcare provider to see whether a diagnosis is needed and discuss possible treatment options.
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Written by: Shenen Sivakumar