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.
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 may vary depending on the location or size of the tumor. In general, symptoms may include:
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:
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:
American Brain Tumor Association
National Brain Tumor Society
Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada
Canadian Cancer Society
General information about adult primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/brain/hp/adult-brain-treatment-pdq. Updated January 27, 2016. Accessed September 6, 2016.
Glioblastoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116043/Glioblastoma. Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed September 26, 2016.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.