Glioblastoma Multiforme Definition
Glioblastoma multiforme is an aggressive cancer that affects the brain or spinal cord that forms from astrocytes, which are a type of cell that supports nerve cells. In simpler terms, glioblastoma multiforme is brain cancer. It grows quickly and spreads quickly, making it very difficult to treat.
Glioblastoma multiforme is a type of astrocytoma that starts in the cerebrum, which is the largest section of the brain. These are the most aggressive of brain cancers, capable of generating their own blood supply. This makes them grow quickly, often directly into normal brain tissue.
Glioblastoma Multiforme Stages
Glioblastoma multiforme is a Grade (Stage) 4 glioma (brain tumor), which means it is the most malignant form of the cancer. For this reason, staging used for other cancers is not useful for glioblastoma multiforme.
Glioblastoma Multiforme Symptoms (signs of Glioblastoma Multiforme)
Because of its rapid growth and aggressive nature, glioblastoma multiforme places pressure on the brain that causes various symptoms. However, sometimes these tumors grow to a surprisingly large size before the patient exhibits symptoms.
Depending on the location of the tumor within the brain, symptoms may vary. The most common symptoms associated with glioblastoma multiforme include:
• Constant headaches
• Trouble thinking
• Alterations in personality or mood
• Blurred vision or double vision
• Difficulty speaking
These symptoms are far more likely to be associated with some ailment other than brain cancer. Still, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you suddenly exhibit any of the aforementioned symptoms.
Glioblastoma Multiforme Statistics
In 2015, it is estimated that there were nearly 30,000 cases of glioblastoma multiforme in the United States. It is also estimated that around 15,300 of these cases resulted in death. While glioblastoma is rare, it still represents about 50% of all primary brain tumors, and 17% of all varieties of brain tumor.
Glioblastoma multiforme more frequently occurs in adults from the ages of 45 to 70, with the median age of death being 64.
Survival rates for glioblastoma multiforme are not good. The most common length of survival after being diagnosed is 12 to 15 months, on average. The 5 year survival rate for cancers is used to assess how many patients live at least 5years after being diagnosed. The 5 year survival rate for glioblastoma multiforme is only 3% to 5%, and if the disease is left untreated the patient will seldom live longer than 3 months. Younger patients are more likely to survive.
It’s important to note that despite the dire statistical evidence regarding mortality in glioblastoma multiforme cases, there are some patients who have survived more than 20 years with the disease. This is rare, but it underscores how important it is to remain positive and seek treatment that you believe is best for you.
Causes of Glioblastoma Multiforme
While the causes of glioblastoma multiforme are mostly unknown, studies indicate that around 5% of cases are influenced by certain hereditary conditions. Because glioblastoma cells have more genetic aberrations than cells of other brain cancers, doctors believe that several genetic mutations influence the development of these cancers.
The genetic mutations that may cause glioblastoma include:
• Inherited defects in the DNA
• Exposure to chemicals and carcinogens over time (cumulative effect)
• Exposure to a high dose of ionized radiation
• Unknown triggers
It’s also possible that there are other causes for this disease, but scientists simply don’t understand the processes that lead to these cancer cells becoming cancerous. What is known is that glioblastoma cells do not die when they’re supposed to and are even capable of developing their own blood vessels to foster their rapid growth.
Glioblastoma Multiforme Screening and Prevention
Screening is the process of testing periodically for a particular disease like cancer in an attempt to diagnose it at an early stage. There are currently no method for glioblastoma multiforme screening. However, certain risk factors have been identified that, if curtailed, could minimize the risk of developing the disease.
Risk factors possible associated with glioblastoma multiforme include:
• Genetics – There are some uncommon brain conditions related to genetic disorders that are believed to be associated with glioblastoma multiforme. Cancer patients that have received radiation therapy are also at risk. Being male also increases a person’s risk of developing the disease.
• Environmental – There is some evidence that various environmental factors play a role in the onset of glioblastoma multiforme. Smoking tobacco, exposure to pesticides, and working in the fields of petroleum refining and rubber manufacturing increase the risk of developing the disease.
Prevention is only possible by curtailing exposure to environmental risks. Obviously, it’s impossible to change one’s genetic factors, but simply quitting smoking could lower the risk of developing glioblastoma.
Glioblastoma Multiforme Treatments
Treating glioblastoma is extremely difficult for a variety of reasons. Not only are the glioblastoma tumor cells resistant to conventional cancer therapies, these treatments often cause severe damage to the brain. Drugs associated with cancer treatment are often incapable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, which means they have no way to affect the tumor.
Treatment for glioblastoma is often palliative in nature, which means the goal of treatment is to help the patient survive as long as possible while improving their quality of life. To accomplish these goals, surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are often prescribed by doctors. Alternating electric field therapy has also shown some promise in recent clinical trials.
Surgery is often the first stage of treatment used for patient with glioblastoma. Benefits include a reduction in symptoms, but it’s difficult to remove the tumor in its entirety. Additionally, recurrence of the cancer is common, so other treatments are often used after surgery in an effort to suppress that reaction.
Radiation therapy is the preferred method of treatment after surgery is performed. It may also accompany chemotherapy. Some glioblastoma tumors are resistant to radiation therapy, which is why chemotherapy is used in tandem with this treatment.
There are side effects associated with radiation therapy that should be considered. Your doctor can explain how these side effects may affect your overall comfort and emotional well being.
Chemotherapy has no treatment benefits by itself, but when used with radiation therapy there is some evidence that it has merit. Some forms of chemotherapy used for glioblastoma multiforme are able to control symptoms but have no effect on patient survival.
There are a number of side effects caused by chemotherapy, and they may be intensified with the addition of radiation therapy. It’s important to understand these side effects and how they may effect your quality of life, if you’re diagnosed with any brain tumor.
Alternating Electric Field Therapy is a newer treatment used for patients newly diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. This treatment is the first large scale clinically studied trial to improve the length of survival in more than 10 years. However, it should be noted that brain cancer experts disagree on its effectiveness.
Any treatment used for glioblastoma should be heavily scrutinized by weighing the benefits to the negatives. The high mortality rate associated with the disease sometimes motivates patients to seek less invasive treatments with fewer side effects. Your choice of treatment is yours alone, but it’s important to surround yourself with the people you love and discuss your options in full.
Dealing with a brain cancer diagnosis can be difficult, so it’s also important to acknowledge your emotional needs and seek help from people you trust.
Alternative Treatments Used for Glioblastoma Multiforme
Treatments that fall outside of mainstream medicine are referred to as “alternative.” Sometimes alternative treatments are used independently, and sometimes they are used in a supporting role to mainstream treatment, often to alleviate symptoms associated with the disease or side effects resulting from treatment.
Considering the high mortality rate of glioblastoma, many patients seek hope in the form of alternative treatments. Some patients have no desire to deal with the side effects of treatment like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, so they too seek alternative treatments.
It should be noted that few people respond to mainstream treatments. In some cases, mainstream treatments can leave the patient in worse condition. For this reason, some alternative treatments seek to identify the nature of the patient’s specific cancer so that the most effective treatment may be identified.
Alternative treatments may also focus on relieving symptoms associated with brain cancer, or the side effects of treatment. These are alternative treatment methods that seek to relive symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Some other forms of alternative glioblastoma multiforme treatment include:
• Traditional medicine
• Special diets
The choice to pursue alternative treatment for any brain cancer is ultimately up to the patient. Before entering into any breast cancer treatment protocol, you should explore your options and seek medical advice from a health professional whom you trust.
Vitamins and Supplements Used in the Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme
There have been a number of studies conducted to ascertain the medicinal value of vitamins and supplements in relation to glioblastoma treatment. Some long-term survivors of the disease developed supplement protocols designed to fight the cancer and/or support their overall health. Many cancer doctors are unfamiliar with these treatments because they fall outside of the sphere of mainstream medicine.
There are a number of vitamins and supplements used by naturopaths and doctors that practice alternative treatment methods for glioblastomas. Some of these include:
• Asiatic Acid
• Fish oil rich in Omega-3s
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin D3
Vitamins and supplements could potentially interfere with other treatment methods, so be sure to talk to your doctor before entering into any treatment protocol using either.
Natural Remedies that May Help Glioblastoma Multiforme
Not only do those suffering from glioblastoma multiforme often seek natural remedies for prevention and treatment, they also look for ways to counter the adverse of effects of traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Patients who receive these treatments may be left with a number of side effects that can make like a struggle, so they pursue natural remedies that help with pain and lack their own side effects.
Diet plays a considerable role in a patient’s overall health when dealing with the side effects of treatment. It’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough calories in your diet. These should be divided between proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Also referred to as “macros,” your doctor will help you better understand how essential foods ensure you get the right vitamins in their proper doses.
Other natural remedies are anything that help you deal with pain, and can include ice packs, warm compresses, or even an Epsom salt bath. Increasing your comfort level will help you deal with the nasty side effects associated with treatment.
Some other natural remedies used by cancer patients include:
Any treatment should be carefully considered. You should also check with your doctor to make sure the treatment won’t have any adverse effects on other treatment protocols.
Dealing with the emotional upheaval of a brain cancer diagnosis can be difficult. Not only are patients often facing a disease typically known for dire prognoses, family members and loved may also witness their mood or personality change as the tumor progresses. This can be challenging for a variety of reasons, so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor and get an idea of what to expect.
It’s important to remember that even though this terrible disease is often terminal, there are people alive today who were diagnosed decades ago. Take the time to protect your mental health, keep your family close by your side, and fully explore your treatment options. Often, the best treatment is the one that you feel best about pursuing.
If you have any questions about glioblastoma multiforme or other brain cancers, contact a member of the Causenta team today.
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