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Glioblastoma: characteristics, diagnosis and treatment


The glioblastoma is a brain tumor, and not any one but the one known as the more aggressive tumor that can hit us. The life expectancy of those affected is not very long, even if they undergo all the necessary treatments.

Also called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), this highly malignant brain tumor belongs to the class of astrocytomas, tumors that arise from aberrant astrocytes that grow and divide abnormally. If the astrocytes are cells of the daughter, glioblastomas, like all astrocytomas, are brain neoplasms that originate in a glia cell. This is why they are also called gliomas.

Among the most common symptoms of the glioblastoma there are headaches, nausea, amnesia, behavior changes and feelings of fatigue. As for the causes, there is not much to explain because in fact they are still unknown today. When it comes to identifying its presence, it is necessary to carry out numerous tests, the treatments then provided for in the event of a positive result include both surgical removal than radiotherapy.

Glioblastoma and brain tumors

Before delving into GBM, let's take an unfortunate but necessary overview of brain tumors, also called brain tumors or brain neoplasms. It is masses of cancer cells, benign or malignant, affecting the central nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, together.

There are many different types of brain tumors, if over 100 have been identified to date and are almost always to be removed or treated with radiotherapy and / or chemotherapy. Keeping them is not possible, also because they cause neurological problems incompatible with a normal life.

Brain tumors typically result from lesions genetic mutations, in some cases they originate directly from a cell of the central nervous system, in others they are a consequence of a malignant tumor already present in the body, in other parts.

There are benign and malignant brain tumors, we have said that glioblastoma is malignant and this means that it is an abnormal cell mass that grows rapidly with a very high infiltrative power and a high metastasizing power. Otherwise, when the tumor is benign, there is a mass of abnormal cells that grows slowly, with little infiltrative power and almost zero metastasizing power.

Glioblastoma: characteristics

In theory this type of tumors it could appear in any region of the brain or spinal cord, therefore of the central nervous system, but in fact there are some areas more affected. For example, in adults these tumors are found mainly in one of the two cerebral hemispheres, in young people they have an equal tendency to form in the brainstem, cerebellum and the brain proper. Most glioblastomas involve white matter.

Whereas all brain tumors they can be qualified for intensity with a scale with 4 degrees depending on their power of growth, we can say that glioblastoma is a grade IV astrocytoma. It is the worst, which means that we are dealing with an AD tumor high mortality and hardly curable.

As I mentioned earlier, there is another classification for glioblastomas which can be primary and secondary, the primary glioblastomas are grade IV immediately while the secondary are the development of grade I, II or III astrocytomas.

Glioblastoma: epidemiology

If we look at the statistics, we note that the most affected by this tumor are males over the age of 50, very few young people suffer from it and, in this case, they are 9-10 year old children. While gliomas, in general, account for at least 30% of brain and spinal cord neoplasms, glioblastomas in turn account for 15-17% of all primary brain tumors, 54% of all gliomas and about 60- 75% of all astrocytomas.

Very often they do not stop where they are but invade the neighboring areas arriving to the meninges and spreading into the cerebrospinal fluid. This is why this is an evil with devastating effects that cannot be curbed, treatments are often in vain and life expectancies are in the order of months.

Glioblastoma: diagnosis and treatment

As for the diagnosis, it usually starts with a eye test accompanied by some questions that are used to assess mental status and cognitive ability. The next step involves a series of specific tests such as nuclear magnetic resonance, the CT scan, biopsy of the tumor, lumbar puncture. Treatment most often consists of surgery to remove the tumor mass, followed by radiotherapy and, sometimes, even chemotherapy.

One can also be added symptomatic treatment, to reduce some symptoms including epilepsy and headache). These words do not want to deceive anyone: glioblastoma is a tumor that, even if treated in the best way, almost always inevitably leads to death

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Video: Glioblastoma (May 2021).