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About glioblastoma multiforme

What is glioblastoma multiforme?

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common malignant primary brain tumor. These tumors are often aggressive and infiltrate surrounding brain tissue. GBMs arise from glial cells, which are cells that form the tissue that surrounds and protects other nerve cells found within the brain and spinal cord. GBMs are mainly composed of star-shaped glial cells known as astrocytes. The general term glioma includes any type of brain tumor such as astrocytoma and oligodendroglioma that arise from glial cells.

Astrocytomas are classified according to a grading system developed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Astrocytomas come in four grades based upon how fast the cells are reproducing and that likelihood that they will infiltrate nearby tissue. Grades I or II astrocytomas are nonmalignant and may be referred to as low-grade. Grades III and IV astrocytomas are malignant and may be referred to as high-grade astrocytomas. Grade III astrocytomas are known as anaplastic astrocytomas. Grade IV astrocytomas are known as glioblastoma multiforme.

What are the symptoms for glioblastoma multiforme?

Because glioblastomas grow quickly, pressure on the brain usually causes the first symptoms. Depending on where the tumor is, it can cause:

  • Constant headaches
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble thinking
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Trouble speaking

What are the causes for glioblastoma multiforme?

Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes glioblastoma. But certain things may make you more likely to have one.

What are the treatments for glioblastoma multiforme?

The goal of glioblastoma treatment is to slow and control tumor growth and help you live as comfortably and as well as possible. There are four treatments, and many people get more than one type:

Surgery is the first treatment. The surgeon tries to remove as much of the tumor as possible. In high-risk areas of the brain, it may not be possible to remove all of it.

What are the risk factors for glioblastoma multiforme?

Prior radiation to the head. If you previously got radiation to treat brain tumors or cancers that may have spread to the area, it can increase your risk for glioblastoma.

Rare genetic conditions. If you have hereditary disorders linked to genetic mutations such as:

  • Turcot syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis type 1
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome

Exposure to chemicals and other cancer-causing agents may also increase your risk for genetic mutations.

Age and gender. It’s more common among those who are 50 or above. The average age for diagnosis is 64. Men are more likely to have it.

Race. It’s more common among white people than among Black, Asian, and Indigenous groups.

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