What Is Glioblastoma?


Quick Answer

Glioblastomas are highly malignant, incurable brain tumors originating from astrocytes, cells that make up the brain's supportive tissue, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. There are two types of glioblastomas: primary and secondary. Primary tumors begin as highly malignant tumors, while secondary tumors start as lower-grade tumors.

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Full Answer

Beginning its growth in the cerebellum, a glioblastoma grows quickly because it has its own blood supply. Glioblastoma symptoms occur rapidly because the tumor's fast growth rate begins to put pressure on the brain. Symptoms include seizures, vomiting, trouble thinking, personality changes and trouble speaking, according to WebMD.

A neurologist can perform an exam, including an MRI scan, to diagnose a patient with the tumor. Although the tumor is incurable, patients usually receive a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to put the tumor in remission. Tumor regrowth, however, is common. If this happens, some patients might have a wafer-like chemotherapy drug inserted in their brains at the original surgery site to inhibit the glioblastoma's growth.

This type of tumor is more common in older people. Men also have a higher chance of developing a glioblastoma. About one in five people diagnosed with a brain tumor have a glioblastoma, according to WebMD.

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