Glioblastoma of the multiform (GBM) is one of the most malign tumors of human species. It is also one of the most common brain tumors, covering about 17% of all brain tumor tissue cancers, being extremely aggressive. In the USA there is about 18000 cases being diagnosed every year and about 15000 of these cases end up fatally during the first year from diagnosis. In the western European countries the mortality rate is similar and yearly there are about 25000 of new cases diagnosed. In the last 20 years despite importing new medications, the glioblastoma survival rate hasn’t changed significantly, showing benefits only with specific cases and patients – decent pre-operative health status is a requirement for this.
This is a tumor being developed from the supporting cells in the brain, known as astrocytes. It can happen at any age but it’s most common in the 40-70 range. An important characteristic of this tumor is its good blood circulation, allowing it to grow quickly, reaching a fatal size in a couple of months. Of course, there are some other malicious tumors of the blood cells which grow at a faster rate than glioblastoma, but these can be treated with appropriate therapies which have proven their high efficiency.
About 90% of these tumors are primary, while 10% of them are developed with progression, from an early diagnosed, diffused or anaplastic astrocytoma. Average time required for the diffuse astrocytoma to develop into glioblastoma is about 5 years, while anaplastic astrocytoma needs about two and a half years.
An average survival period for patients suffering from primary glioblastoma is about 8 months. This difference in survival is usually assigned to younger age, as people suffering from the secondary glioblastoma are mostly younger individuals who can withstand aggressive treatment a bit better.
Glioblastoma can’t be completely removed surgically, but this is an unavoidable method of treatment. It has been proven in many occasions that this does increase the survival period of the patient. After the surgery there is a prepared protocol of glioblastoma treatment which includes combinations of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Patients are radiated 28 to 30 days on a daily basis, all the time taking Temozolomid, which is a medication coming from the group of the so called alkalizing cytostatic substances. After radiotherapy, this substance needs to be provided to the patient in about 5-6 cycles.
With this, there is an average survival rate of 22 months long, which is the case with patients who have reacted well to the therapy and featured good overall condition during the diagnosis. Age is also important since younger persons can withstand this intensive treatment much better and there is a higher dosage of Temozolomid allowed for injection.
After all this, the oncologic treatment is completed and patients can periodically report to MRI recordings. Unfortunately, the appearance of recidivisms is common and can reported 3-4 months after completed treatment, sometimes sooner. In rare cases of treatment doctors tend to recommend another surgery cycle which may accomplish temporary improvements, but with no hope of preventing the tumor to grow.