An aggressive tumor that starts within the brain, a glioblastoma is a common primary brain tumor that generally spreads quickly throughout the brain. Glioblastomas account for more than half of all primary brain tumors (54 percent).
This cancerous tumor arises from the cells that support the neurons within the brain. While it can be located anywhere in the brain, we usually find it in the cerebral hemisphere near the frontal and temporal lobes. The blood vessels in this area fuel its growth.
Glioblastomas occur mostly in older adults in their 50s and 60s and affect slightly more men than women. Glioblastomas can affect adults at any age.
Like most primary brain tumors, glioblastomas can cause an array of symptoms, including blurry vision, headaches, nausea and vomiting, memory loss, numbness, seizures, and weakness on one side of the body. The symptoms are a result of the intracranial pressure caused by the glioblastoma as well as the location of the tumor.
We do not know what causes glioblastomas, but like many other cancers, genetic mutations are thought to be at fault.
Surgery is often the best way to control glioblastomas. At Mount Sinai, if you are a good candidate for the procedure, we will do a craniotomy. This procedure involves removing (resecting) a portion of the skull to access the brain. This procedure allows us to detach the most advanced part of the tumor. We can perform this surgery once or in multiple rounds.
Usually, our patients undergo a combination of radiation and chemotherapy after surgery to destroy any remaining tumor cells. If we cannot perform surgery because the tumor is located in a critical part of the brain or if you are not healthy enough, we may just do radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
Mount Sinai also offers clinical trials with experimental chemotherapy regimens. If you are a good candidate and choose to participate in these trials, it may offer you additional benefits and will also help us develop more effective therapies to treat brain cancers.