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What is glioblastoma multiforme?

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Glioblastoma multiforme is an aggressive type of glioma, or brain cancer, according to a research paper published on PubMed. It arises from the glia or glia precursors that are found in the central nervous system. Glia are crucial in helping nerve cells function, notes Neuroscience, Second Edition.

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Glioblastoma multiforme is so aggressive that there are no long-term survivors, explains the research paper. Most patients who are diagnosed with this cancer are dead within a year. One reason that glioblastoma multiforme is so deadly is the tumor's complexity. It is a mass of dead tissue, hemorrhages, tiny, tangled blood vessels and nuclei that can alter their size and shape. Its genetic material is similarly chaotic.

Glioblastoma multiforme tumors are also difficult to treat surgically, as the paper reports. The cancer is spread around the brain, and it is extremely difficult to cut all of it out. The glioma cells quickly migrate away from the main tumor to infiltrate the brain's parenchyma and other structures, such as white matter. The parenchyma is the functional tissue of the brain. The cancer cells also surround nerve cells and blood vessels. Eventually, the center of the tumor can't be found, and the glioma cells destroy those parts of the brain necessary to support life.

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