What is a Glioblastoma multiforme?

November 12, 2012

What is a Glioblastoma multiforme?

Glioblastoma multiformes are high grade tumors that are generally found in the nervous system. Most brain tumors fall into this category.

A Glioblastoma multiforme is the highest grade malignant tumor found in the glial tissue of the nervous system, it is the most malignant and most common of brain tumors.


Whilst the general symptoms of Glioblastoma multiforme are the same as for any brain tumor there may also be specific symptoms relating to the size and shape of the Glioblastoma multiforme.

General symptoms may include some or all of the following -

  • Relentless headaches – particularly at night or which are present on waking

  • Sight or speech problems

  • Altered behavior or personality

  • Fatigue

  • Numbness, paralysis, general instability

  • Sensory disorders

  • Seizures

  • Double vision

However with Glioblastoma multiforme the symptoms vary according the exact location of the tumor, its’ overall size and the speed at which it grows – the tumor may be quite large before any symptoms become apparent; if this is the case and the tumor is found to be large then it is also likely that the cancer has spread to other areas of the brain.

Risk factors

Glioblastoma multiforme are most commonly found in the over 50s age group; however they can occur at any age.


Anybody who is regularly experiencing any of the general symptoms of brain tumor should seek the advice of their medical practitioner who may well refer the patient to a neurologist. A complete examination will be carried out which may well include an MRI, a CAT scan and a chest X-Ray. Other tests may be carried out depending on what symptoms are present – vision tests and a lumbar puncture for example. A cerebral angiography is rarely used in diagnosis but may be carried out before any surgery.

Is there any treatment?

Clearly treatment of any Glioblastoma multiforme is dependent on the nature of the tumor, its’ location, how fast it is growing and what symptoms are present.

  • Radiation therapy is used to treat gliomas (a primary brain tumor originating in the supportive glial cells).

  • Chemotherapy has also been found to be beneficial in the treatment of gliomas.

  • Surgery

Other treatments are still in the research phase and include new forms of chemotherapy, radioactive seed implants and stereotactic radiosurgery.


The outlook for anyone with a Glioblastoma multiforme is not hopeful – only around 25% of patients will survive for 2 years. There are some factors which appear to give an improved outlook

  • Patients who are under the age of 45

  • Removal of all or most of the tumor

  • The tumor can be downgraded from Glioblastoma multiforme to anaplastic astrocytoma which is less severe.

If you, or someone you know, are exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned on a regular basis then you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

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