by Sonja Lyons
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common glioma (a type of brain cancer). It represents nearly one fourth of all primary brain tumors. This cancer starts in the glial cells, which are cells that help nerve cells work.
This condition can develop spontaneously. Less commonly, it can develop from a lower grade, less malignant (cancerous) brain tumor. Most cases are located in the cerebral hemisphere, but the cancer can begin in the spinal cord or brain stem.
If you suspect you have this serious condition, contact your doctor immediately. Early treatment leads to a more favorable outcome.
GBM originates from astrocytes, which are a type of glial cell. The factors that cause normal-functioning astrocytes to become cancerous is not well understood.
These factors increase your chance of developing GBM. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
There is inconsistent evidence that electromagnetic radiation and cell phone use are associated with this condition.
After taking a complete history of your symptoms and completing a physical exam, your doctor may also use the following tests:
Surgery is often done to confirm diagnosis and relieve headache, but doctors cannot completely remove the cancer. Other types of treatment may include:
Currently, researchers are studying new treatments. These include:
Unfortunately, overall prognosis is poor. Even with aggressive treatment, few patients survive more than five years after diagnosis. However, there is evidence that medical and surgical intervention can increase life expectancy and improve quality of life.
A multi-disciplinary approach is important for you and your family. This approach may involve:
American Brain Tumor Association
National Brain Tumor Foundation
Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada
Canadian Cancer Society
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Last reviewed September 2012 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Last Updated: 09/10/2012