Glioblastoma

Glioblastoma accounts for 30 percent of all brain tumors, and is the most common primary brain tumor of adults. Glioblastomas occur most often in older adults, both men and women. Less than 10 percent of childhood brain tumors are glioblastomas.

What is a glioblastoma?

A glioblastoma is a malignant tumor that originates from the supportive tissue of the brain, and grows from star-shaped, astrocyte cells. Glioblastoma tumors have tentacle-like cells that grow into the surrounding tissue. While there are low-grade astrocytomas, the grade IV glioblastomas are more common, completely malignant, and can grow very rapidly in the brain, growing over three to six months.

What are the symptoms of glioblastoma?

Headaches, memory loss, seizures and behavioral changes are the most common symptoms, primarily due to increased pressure of the brain caused by rapid growth of the tumor. As the tumor grows, loss of certain bodily functions may also occur, depending on the location of the tumor.

What treatments are available?

There are many options for treating glioblastomas:

  • Image-guided neurosurgery
  • Interventional MRI
  • High-precision radiosurgery, including three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Interstitial brachytherapy (radiation seed implants)
  • Chemotherapy

 Recent Glioma Research

Recently CNN published some information on a study that an altered virus killed brain tumors in mice.   A cold virus was genetically engineered to help it sneak into cancer cells.  The common cold virus, known as adenovirus was weakened so it could not affect healthy cells, then given a “key” to open the door into cancer cells.   When tested in mice injected with human brain tumor cells, called glioblastoma multiforme, it apparently cured 60% of them and no additional tumors were found.  The mice lived 140 days; normally, mice injected with human brain tumor cells die within 20 days.  If it works, it will be the first treatment for malignant glioma.  Brain tumors affect about 18,000 people in the US every year, killing 13,000.  Gliomas are responsible for about half of all cases.