About the disease
Neoplastic cells usually develop inside the skull. Glioblastoma may arise at any age. Even children can have it, although most occurrences are common in people aged 50-60 years. Brain tumor of this kind can have a giant size and turn into multiple forms. If not treated, it can result in development of gliosarcoma. According to data obtained by National Cancer Institute there are 24000 people registered with brain cancer annually. Glioblastoma usually develops either in brain stem or in its hemispheres. Glioblastoma in the stem of the brain can not be surgically removed, because brainstem regulates all vital mental and body functions. It also connects head and spinal cord. Basically, brainstem is responsible for respiratory and vasomotor centers, that`s why the initial symptoms of brain stem glioblastoma are heart and respiratory disorders. Disease may begin spreading from the stem and reach other parts of the brain in the changed form of metastasis. Glioblastoma usually develops very rapidly.
Glioblastoma of cerebral hemispheres affects brain hemispheres. This subtype of brain cancer is often diagnosed during cytological research. Tumor of cerebral hemispheres may have an oval or round form and have the size dimension of the beans. Very rarely shape is irregular. This type of glioblastoma can be surgically removed.
There are primary and secondary glioblastomas, that`s why it`s so important to differentiate its type during the diagnosis. The primary glioblastoma has much worse prognosis and is more difficult to treat. Secondary glioblastoma appeared as a result of other diseases and it is more susceptible to chemotherapy and radioactive intervention. Moreover, primary and secondary glioblastomas require different types of surgery, as they can differ in location and can have slightly varying brain cancer symptoms, which may appear at different time.
- Disturbed gait
- Speech disorders
- Inability to conduct complex actions
Other brain cancer signs are hemorrhage and the hemorrhagic stroke, which may be a result of extensive bleeding in tumor tissue. Brain cancer signs rarely appear before tumor is progressed. The most painful glioblastoma symptom is headache.
- For the diagnosis of brain cancer doctors usually use MRI and biopsy. Biopsy can show size of malformation. The most modern diagnostic method is stereotactic biopsy which uses three-dimensional computer technology to localize and determine malignant lesion. MRI is considered to be the most accurate diagnostic method, as it produces informative images of brain glioblastoma.
- Doctors also use MRC scan of brain and magnetic resonance imaging, when the special marker is injected into the patient head. The marker is connected to the computer and shows the inner side of the brain. The marker helps to determine the location of the brain glioblastoma and create its three-dimensional reconstruction.
- According to Science Daily, doctors can also use new type of a biomarker to estimate current progression of tumor and predict speed of its development in future. Such marker was invented and implemented in use by researchers from Southwestern Medical Center.
- Chemotherapy. When prescribing drugs for the glioblastoma, doctors determine stage, patient's age and his overall health condition. Chemotherapy drugs are aimed to destroy the neoplastic cells. Chemotherapy is usually carried out in conjunction with radiation therapy. Typically, patient needs to undergo 5-7 cycles of chemotherapy. They rarely last longer than 5 days. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy helps only in 25 cases out of 100. Chemotherapy is also prescribed for children, because radioactive therapy can not be used on their brain as it has too negative impact. In fact, radioactive treatment should be used only after careful weighing of pros and cons, taking into account the state of health of a person's age and malignancy of his tumor.
- Surgical removal. Many doctors believe that glioblastoma is not amenable to surgery. But if its location is favorable, it can be removed by surgery. 4 hours before the operation, patient is given a special drug, which makes tumor cells accumulate protoporphyrin. This drug is used to make contours of glioblastoma more pronounced under special blue lighting. Such blue light makes the neoplastic cells glow, which gives the neurosurgeon an opportunity to operate.
- Radiation therapy. Surgery not always gives 100% removal of the tumor, because cancer cells can continue to proliferate. In that case, they need to be destroyed by radioactive exposure. Radiation therapy can replace surgery if tumor is inoperable. You must also know that radiation therapy has side effects, which include fatigue, nausea, hair loss and constant weakness. Brain tissue may swell after the radioactive intervention, which means that the headaches may become even more severe for a while. Proton therapy is the new type of radiation therapy.