(GBM; Brain Tumor; Malignant Astrocytoma)
by Sonja Lyons
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common glioma—a type of brain cancer. This cancer starts in the glial cells, which are cells that help nerve cells work.
This condition can develop suddenly. It can also develop from a lower grade, less cancerous brain tumor. Most cases are located in the cerebral hemisphere of the brain. The cancer can also begin in the spinal cord or brain stem.
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.
Factors that increase your chances of developing GBM include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images and scans may be taken of your brain. This can be done with:
Your brain activity may be measured. This can be done with:
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
Surgery is often done to confirm diagnosis and relieve headache, but doctors cannot completely remove the cancer. Other types of treatment may include:
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 Society
Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada
Canadian Cancer Society
Adult brain tumors treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.... . Updated May 14, 2013. Accessed June 11, 2013.
Brain tumors. The Merck Manual of Medical Information: Second Home Edition Online website. Available at: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec06/ch088/ch088b.html . Updated February 2008. Accessed June 11, 2013.
Glioblastoma multiforme. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated June 3, 2013. Accessed June 11, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Mohei Abouzied, MD; Michael Woods, MD