The cells in your body are created, grow, divide, and eventually die, replaced by new cells formed in response to an organ or system’s need. Some cells, though, don’t follow the normal pattern, continually growing and dividing and eventually collecting into a mass called a tumor.
Some of these tumor cells can also metastasize, spreading from one part of the body to another, creating new tumors wherever they go and disrupting the function of normal cells.
At Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas, Dr. Scott Glickman, a board-certified, multi-fellowship-trained neurosurgeon, has extensive experience with the two big categories of tumors of the brain: those that start in the brain (primary) and those that metastasize there (secondary).
One form of primary brain tumor that’s particularly aggressive is glioblastoma. Here’s what you need to know about these masses, as well as your treatment options and challenges.
Types of tumors
There are three basic categories of tumors:
- Benign: non-cancerous mass of cells that can’t metastasize; don’t grow back if you remove them
- Premalignant: non-cancerous mass of cells with the potential to become cancerous
- Malignant: cancerous tumors able to metastasize by way of the bloodstream and lymphatic system
Glioblastomas are primary brain tumors, and they’re malignant. In fact, they’re the most aggressive form of gliomas, tumors that develop from the nerve-supporting glial cells. They account for over half of primary brain tumors and about 17% of all brain tumors.
Glioblastomas exert pressure on the brain tissue where they grow, causing symptoms characteristic of the specific region’s function. Common symptoms include:
- Persistent headaches, usually more intense in the morning
- Weakness in the arm, leg, and/or face
- Nausea and vomiting
- Balance issues
- Memory deficits
Because they’re primary tumors, glioblastomas don’t produce symptoms in areas of the body not controlled by the brain area affected.
How do you treat glioblastomas?
Treating glioblastomas is challenging since they’re so aggressive. At Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas, Dr. Glickman works with a team of cancer specialists to create an individualized treatment plan.
The primary treatment for glioblastomas is surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible without damaging surrounding tissue. However, it’s often not possible to get all of the mass because glioblastomas grow into the normal brain tissue. For this reason, most patients receive chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy after their procedure to target the remaining cancerous cells.
Another possibility is participating in a clinical trial. These trials are a way to test if new drugs or other treatments are effective and safe; trials for glioblastomas may include modalities such as gene therapy, immunotherapy, and focused radiation therapy. Because they’re new therapies, though, it means you don’t know if or how you’ll respond, but it’s a way to “think outside the box” if other treatments have failed.
If you have glioblastoma and you’re interested in participating in such a trial, discuss the possibility with Dr. Glickman, and he can advise you on the best way to proceed.
If you’ve been diagnosed with glioblastoma, or you’re experiencing symptoms that might indicate such a diagnosis, you need to come into Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas for a consultation with Dr. Glickman. To schedule, call our office at 702-929-8242, text us at 725-210-0057, or book your appointment online.