What is Glioblastoma?
Glioblastoma is a form of brain cancer. It is one of the most malignant brain tumor normally found in the adults. It spreads out rapidly and grows rapidly inside the body because of its aggressive nature.
As of now, medical science does not have a specific cure for it, however, physicians follow a treatment plan to manage the symptoms of Glioblastoma so as to improve the quality of life of the cancer patient.
How Does the Formation of Glioblastoma Take Place in the Brain?
Glioblastoma is classified as ‘astrocytoma’ which is a form of cancer that originates from the star shaped cells in the brain also known as astrocytes. Cerebrum (the largest part of the brain), is the location from where the Glioblastoma originates and then spreads to the other parts of the brain.
The most peculiar thing about Glioblastoma is that it creates its own line of blood supply which lets it grow infinitely. This further allows it to easily invade the remaining brain tissues.
Prevalence Rate of Glioblastoma?
Each brain cancer patient isn’t supposed to be suffering from Glioblastoma. Rather, even 4 out of 5 brain cancer patients aren’t Glioblastomas. The occurrence of Glioblastoma is very rare and is more common in men than in women. The chances of Glioblastoma to occur in humans increase with age. Alone in the US, physicians have diagnosed around 11,000 cases of Glioblastoma in the last 4 years.
Symptoms of Glioblastoma
Since in Glioblastoma, the tumor grows quickly, therefore the excess pressure crafted by the extra mass in the brain leads to the following symptoms.
- Periodic headaches ranging from a scale of 4 to 9 where in 0 means no headache and 10 means extreme head ache.
- Loss of cognitive ability
- Difficulty in speaking properly
- Frequent changes in the mood as well as personality
- Difficulty in thinking which may gradually lead to loss of memory
- Problem in vision leading to blurred or double vision
- Frequent episodes of seizures
The symptoms depend upon the location of the tumor in the brain and may vary from patient to patient.
Diagnosis of Glioblastoma
The initial diagnosis of Glioblastoma is conducted by a neurologist who specializes in diagnosing as well as treating brain disorders. The diagnosis starts with a CT scan or an MRI scan along with other tests depending upon the symptoms of Glioblastoma. Followed by the tests, a complete examination of the brain is done and finally, the findings are mapped.
Treatment of Glioblastoma
Although the clinical trials to find out a cure for Glioblastoma are being conducted, however, as of now, the physicians treat the patient with a goal to slow down and control the growth of tumor inside the brain so as to allow the patient to live a comfortable and a quality life, even if the chances of survival rate is bare minimum.
There are four types of treatment plan which the physician can proceed with to treat your brain cancer, which are as follows:-
Surgery is one of the four lines of treatment wherein the surgeon removes as much tumor as possible from the brain. Since the brain is quite a delicate part of the body, therefore, the surgeon faces some limitation in completely removing the tumor, especially if it is present in the delicate areas of the brain. The goal of the surgeon is to remove the tumor to the maximum possible extent.
In certain cases, physicians have witnessed chemotherapy doing wonders in patients suffering from Glioblastoma. Chemotherapy for Glioblastoma is done using a drug known as Temozolomide. Although this drug is known to cause certain ‘short term’ side effects in the body, however, it is quite effective and less harmful than the other forms of treatment.
Sometimes, physicians combine surgery and chemotherapy treatment. The surgeon removes as much tumor as he can during the surgery, and the remaining part of the tumor inside the brain is treated with the help of chemotherapy.
Radiation is the third form of treatment for Glioblastoma which is also used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy. The left over tumor inside the brain is exposed to radiations that slows down the growth of the tumor inside the brain.
- Electric Field Therapy
Electric field therapy is the fourth line of treatment available to treat patients suffering from Glioblastoma. It is also known as EFT in which an electric field is used to specifically target tumor cells. The normal brain cells don’t get affected by electric field.
To create the electric field, doctors put electrodes directly on the scalp of the patient. The device is called as Optune. The use of electric field therapy is done after completing the radiation and the surgery line of treatment. Because of the effectiveness of the therapy, even FDA has approved it, both for the newly diagnosed patients as well as for the patients already suffering from Glioblastoma.
Along with these 4 lines of treatment, physicians these days also prefer a parallel line of treatment called as the palliative care. It is a recommended form of treatment for anyone suffering from a serious form of illness. The palliative care treatment takes care of the pain as well as emotions with a goal to improve the quality of life of the patient.
An effective combination of all the above forms of treatment can put the tumor on the remission mode wherein the symptoms associated with Glioblastoma disappear for a considerable amount of time.
Clinical Trials for Glioblastoma
To find out a cure for Glioblastoma, there are a lot of clinical trials that are being conducted currently. You can get yourself enrolled in one of these clinical trials with the help of your physician.
Glioblastoma: Average Life Expectancy
The life expectancy varies from patient to patient suffering from Glioblastoma. It depends on various factors, however, over the period of time, physicians have found out an average life expectancy of the patients suffering from Glioblastoma which is as follows:-
- One Year
For patients suffering from Glioblastoma chances of having a life expectancy of one year is 39.3%
- Two Years
For patients suffering from Glioblastoma chances of having a life expectancy of two years is 16.9%
- Three Years
For patients suffering from Glioblastoma chances of having a life expectancy of three years is 9.9%
- Four Years
For patients suffering from Glioblastoma chances of having a life expectancy of four years is 7.0%
- Five Years
For patients suffering from Glioblastoma chances of having a life expectancy of five years is 5.5%
- Ten Years
For patients suffering from Glioblastoma chances of having a life expectancy of ten years is 2.9%
As per the research studies, it has been found that the human will power and positivity helps a lot during the cancer treatment. Do remember that every cloud has a silver lining.
- American Brain Tumor Association: “Glioblastoma”: https://www.abta.org/tumor_types/glioblastoma/
- American Cancer Society: “Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Adults”: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-adults.html
- Cancer Research UK: “Brain Tumours”: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/brain-tumours
- WebMD: “What Is Glioblastoma?”: https://www.webmd.com/cancer/brain-cancer/what-is-glioblastoma