Get Treatment For Glioblastoma Multiforme

Great Surgical Care at Marina del Rey Hospital

Why Choose Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Glioblastoma Multiforme Treatment?

For the last 50 years, our hospital has been providing quality healthcare and treatment to the community of Los Angeles. Our skillful and talented surgeons have years of experience in treating cancer with minimal postoperative risks and fast recovery, as we employ novel and innovative medical technology to carry out surgical procedures. If you choose Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, you will receive the healthcare you need in a warm and compassionate environment, as we place great emphasis on the comfort and wellbeing of our patients.

As cancer that starts in the brain, glioblastoma multiforme is a very aggressive malignant disease. Glioblastoma multiforme begins developing in the cells medically known as astrocytes, whose purpose is to control which substances enter the brain. They form the blood brain barrier and also help support nerve cells by carrying nutrients to them. Brain tumors are graded from I to IV on a scale that measures how aggressive they are and glioblastoma multiforme has the rating IV, which means that it develops at a very rapid pace. However, it rarely spreads to other parts of the body other than the brain.

Unfortunately, glioblastoma multiforme cannot be cured, but numerous people live many years after their diagnosis with the help of treatment that keeps their disease under control. It is worthy of note that glioblastoma multiforme accounts for 52% of all primary brain tumors. It affects 2 to 3 adults out of 100,000 every year in the United States, which makes it quite rare. These brain tumors are very rare in children and usually occur in adults between the ages of 45 and 70.

The most effective treatment for glioblastoma multiforme will highly depend on the size of the tumor, whether it has spread to other parts of the brain, your overall health, your age, as well as your preferences. Surgery is often used to remove as much as possible of the brain tumor and the surgeon may implant medicated wafers in the brain, which deliver chemotherapy drugs to the areas damaged by cancer.

During surgery, magnetic resonance imagining may be used so that the surgeon will be able to see with precision the inside of the brain. Undergoing surgery will relieve a significant amount of pressure in the brain, even if not the entire malignant tumor is removed. After the procedure, a small portion of the tumor is sent to a laboratory to be examined by a pathologist in order to confirm or deny the presence of glioblastoma multiforme.

Usually, the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme involves multiple specialists, such as social workers, nurses, dietitians, and occupational or physical therapists. The patient can choose whether they want to undergo active treatment for their glioblastoma multiforme or palliative care, whose purpose is to prolong their life expectancy as much as possible. Palliative care also implies the alleviation of the symptoms of glioblastoma multiforme so that the patient can enjoy a life with as few bothersome symptoms as possible. Regardless of the treatment you choose to undergo, you will need to go to follow-up appointments so that the oncologist can see how your glioblastoma multiforme is progressing. Other treatments available for people with this type of cancer include:

  • intravenous chemotherapy
  • steroids to reduce swelling in the brain
  • medication to prevent seizures
  • participation in clinical trials, where you will receive experimental treatment
  • radiotherapy

There are multiple chemotherapy drugs used to keep glioblastoma multiforme under control, the most effective being:

  • temozolomide, the most effective drug for glioblastoma multiforme
  • carmustine, another great drug for people with this brain tumor
  • bevacizumab, which is used as a second treatment for recurring glioblastomas
  • lomustine, which improves the effectiveness of bevacizumab when the patient receives both drugs

At the moment, there are numerous clinical trials available for people with glioblastoma multiforme, in which they can receive the latest medication for this cancer. Some of the aspects on which clinical trials for glioblastoma multiforme are currently focusing are:

  • cancer vaccines
  • gene therapy
  • highly focused radiation therapy
  • medicines to prevent blood vessels from growing in tumors
  • other types of chemotherapy
  • targeted therapy

There are 2 types of glioblastoma multiforme: primary and secondary. While the former is the most common, as well as the most aggressive, the latter is encountered less frequently, affecting 10% of people at the age of 45 or younger. Glioblastoma multiforme usually develops in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, but malignant cells can also be found in the brain stem, cerebellum, other parts of the brain, and the spinal cord.

Symptoms of Glioblastoma Multiforme

The majority of symptoms of glioblastoma multiforme develop slowly and worsen over time. Furthermore, many of the symptoms may lead to serious health complications over the years. Some of the most common symptoms of this cancer are:

  • headaches
  • learning difficulties
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of balance or trouble walking
  • mood swings
  • nausea or vomiting
  • personality and behavior changes
  • problems speaking
  • problems with memory
  • seizures
  • sensation changes
  • tiredness
  • trouble concentrating
  • vision change
  • weakness

Diagnosis of Glioblastoma Multiforme

The diagnostic process of glioblastoma multiforme usually starts with the doctor asking you various questions about your health, your symptoms, and your family history of the disease. They will also examine your vision and hearing, sensations of touch, strength, and reflexes. You may also undergo tests whose purpose is to assess your memory and learning ability. Moreover, you may be asked to walk or engage in other activities that will help your doctor evaluate your gait, coordination, and balance. If your doctor suspects the presence of glioblastoma multiforme, they will order several tests to confirm or deny this diagnosis, which include:

  • MRI scan: this test, which uses magnetic resonance imaging, will provide your doctor with clear images of your brain that will help them detect any abnormal growth inside of it, as well as swelling or the accumulation of blood inside your brain
  • CT scan: computed tomography is very useful in finding fresh bleeding, skull abnormalities, and calcium deposits, as it also offers clear images of the inside of your brain
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy: this test can help the doctor assess chemical processes in different parts of the brain
  • needle biopsy: with the aid of magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography, the doctor will collect a sample of tissue from the tumor in your brain with the help of a needle, which will subsequently be sent to a laboratory for analysis
  • blood tests: blood tests can show how well certain organs are working and help your doctor evaluate your overall health

It is worthy of note that your physician may refer you to a specialist such as a neurologist or neurosurgeon after you undergo these tests so that you can receive the most effective treatment for your glioblastoma multiforme. Along with oncologists and neurooncologists, they will be able to design a treatment plan for you, as every patient is unique and requires a personalized treatment approach.

Medical researchers are still trying to understand what causes glioblastoma multiforme, as astrocytes, the cells in which malignant tumors develop, are usually very controlled and organized. When glioblastoma multiforme occurs, they begin multiplying and forming malignant tumors. It is not clear what causes this, but researchers have found a number of changes and mutations in genes within the tumor cells. Some of these mutations damage the ability of the cells to regulate themselves. There are several risk factors that may contribute to the development of glioblastoma multiforme, such as:

  • receiving radiation therapy to the head or neck for leukemia, fungal infections of the scalp, or previous cancers of the brain
  • being male
  • having chromosomal abnormalities on chromosome 10 or 17
  • being 50 or older
  • suffering from certain genetic syndromes, such as neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, or von Hippel-Lindau disease
  • excessive alcohol consumption

A study conducted with the help of the National Cancer Institute found that people with glioblastoma multiforme who took the herb Boswellia serrata after surgery or radiotherapy experienced slower growth of the remaining malignant cells in their brains. However, it is not clear whether the herb itself or the combination of Boswellia serrata with standard treatment had this effect on glioblastoma multiforme patients.

Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent glioblastoma multiforme, as it is not clear what causes it in the first place. However, there are multiple things you can do to keep yourself healthy if you were diagnosed with this cancer, such as:

  • eating a healthy diet, with a focus on high-protein foods
  • drinking a lot of water, fruit juices, and other liquids
  • staying physically active
  • resting as much as needed
  • talking with your healthcare team about ways to manage treatment side-effects
  • taking your medication as directed by your healthcare team

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