Unfortunately, right now, no cure for glioblastoma. Treatment aims to:
Treatment depends on the patient's medical and personal situations. It generally includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Surgery. In most cases, surgery is the first step in treatment. The goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible. This helps to relieve symptoms. Doctors can also examine the tumor tissue to confirm the glioblastoma diagnosis.
Sometimes a biopsy is done instead of surgery to confirm the diagnosis. This might be done if a patient is not healthy enough to withstand surgery.
Glioblastoma tumors grow like tentacles into surrounding brain tissue, so it is often not possible to remove them completely. That's why the treatment plan usually includes additional therapy to destroy the remaining cancer cells.
Radiation. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-ray beams to stop or slow tumor growth. Patients usually get radiation treatment following biopsy or surgery.
External beam radiation therapy aims high-powered x-rays at the tumor and surrounding tissues from outside the body. Another approach is called interstitial radiation or brachytherapy. In this case, radioactive substances are implanted directly into a tumor.
Proton therapy is a type of radiation often used for patients with glioblastoma. Proton therapy provides pinpoint focusing of the radiation beam to the tumor. This lessens the chance of damage to surrounding normal brain tissue.
Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It can be taken by mouth, injected into a vein or muscle, or placed directly into a body part.
Some chemotherapy drugs destroy cancerous cells or prevent them from reproducing. Others alter a tumor's behavior by changing the environment around it.
Several medicines are available to help manage the symptoms of glioblastoma. These drugs can reduce swelling around the tumor, control seizures, and lessen nausea and vomiting.
Glioblastoma in children
As with adults, surgery is often the first treatment. It aims to remove as much tumor as possible. Surgery is followed by radiation therapy and often by chemotherapy. For very young children, radiation may be postponed until after age 3.
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