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Glioblastoma multiforme

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and most aggressive of the primary brain tumors and is highly malignant. It infiltrates the brain extensively, and at times may become enormous before symptoms appear, but it seldom metastasizes, or spreads, to the spinal cord or outside the nervous system.

GBM symptoms are typically caused by the tumor's growing size, which increases pressure in the skull and on the brain. Specific symptoms may suggest a tumor's location, size or type. 

A seizure may be the first indication of a brain tumor, or the first sign of a recurring tumor. Most patients also experience headaches at some point during the course of their illness. Other symptoms may include:

  • Change in vision
  • Changes in personality, memory and speech
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness or loss of feeling in the arms and legs
  • Drowsiness

Malignant brain tumors are usually treated with a combination of treatments. Surgery, radiation therapy, a special form of radiation called stereotactic radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments, are used to treat brain tumors. When determining which treatment to use, physicians usually review the severity and type of the tumor and the general health of the patient.

The survival rates in people with brain tumors depends on many different variables including:

  • Tumor grade, the tendency to spread and the growth rate
  • Tumor location, (location affects whether the tumor can be removed surgically)
  • Patient's age and ability to function
  • Duration of symptoms

Because of the guarded prognosis for many malignant brain tumors, support for the patients, as well as preservation of quality of life, are critical components of treatment.