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Glioblastoma Multiforme

(GBM; Brain Tumor; Malignant Astrocytoma)

Definition

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.
Brain Tumor
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Causes

GBM originates from astrocytes, which are a type of glial cells. The factors that cause normal-functioning astrocytes to become cancerous is not well understood.

Risk Factors

GBM is more common in people over 50 years old, especially those who are Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian. Factors that increase your chance of developing GBM include:

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Diagnosis

You will be asked 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:

Treatment

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 5 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:

Prevention

As the causes of GBM are unknown, there are no preventive measures.

RESOURCES

American Brain Tumor Association http://www.abta.org

National Brain Tumor Society http://www.braintumor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada http://www.braintumour.ca

Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca

References

Adult brain tumors treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/adultbrain/healthprofessional. Updated June 5, 2015. Accessed June 11, 2015.

Glioblastoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 30, 2015. Accessed June 11, 2015.

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