Glioblastoma

March 2017


Definition


Glioblastoma is a brain tumor that affects the astrocytes, the cells of the central nervous system. It is the most common tumor (but nevertheless still rare) in adults, and is also the most aggressive type of brain cancer. It usually affects people between 45 and 70 years old. There are primary glioblastomas and secondary glioblastomas, the latter being a transformation of an initially benign tumor.

Symptoms


Symptoms will vary depending on the location of the tumor.
Suggestive signs of glioblastoma are:
  • nausea
  • vomiting;
  • headache;
  • behavioral problems;
  • blurred vision;
  • memory loss;
  • and occasionally seizures.

The presence of the tumor will cause an inflammation of the brain tissue and the formation of an edema. It is this inflammation that will increase the pressure within the brain (intracranial pressure) and cause further symptoms.

Diagnosis


A patient interview will highlight some symptoms that are suggestive of the disease. In case of suspected brain pathology, a CT scan and an MRI of the brain will confirm the diagnosis and help pinpoint the exact location of the tumor. A biopsy can be performed after the localization of the latter if the area is accessible. However, in most cases, the diagnosis is almost certain, even prior to the biopsy.

Treatment


The treatment will consist of:
  • the removal of the tumor by surgery if possible;
  • the administration of radiotherapy;
  • chemotherapy.

The treatment itself won't lead to a complete curing of the disease. However, it increases the life expectancy by a few months. Glioblastoma has a poor prognosis. Life expectancy is estimated at one or two years.

Related

Original article published by . Translated by Jeff.
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