Glioblastoma (GBM)

What is Glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma, also called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), is a kind of tumour arising from star-shaped cells (astrocytes) that build up brain supportive tissues. It is a rapidly growing, aggressive type of cancer, which affects parts of the brain and spinal cord. Tumours forming from astrocytes are cancerous as the cells multiply rapidly and are backed by a large network of blood vessels.

Glioblastomas comprise a mix of cells types, cultivated by ample blood supply. Dead cells from the centre of the tumour. Since the tumours are formed of normal blood cells, they find it easy to enter and survive within the normal brain tissues.


The signs and symptoms of glioblastoma are initially non-specific and conclude as a headache, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. These malignant tumours create pressure inside the brain, which is the earliest visible symptom. Based on the location and severity or stage of the tumour, a variety of other symptoms can also be viewed. This includes:

  • Weakness and Fatigue.
  • Loss of memory.
  • Speech difficulties.
  • Reduced mobility, especially on one side of the body.
  • Seizure.
  • Visual impairment.


The exact cause and trigger of GBM tumours are not clear. However, brain tumours will continue to grow if left untreated. Without treatment, the damage caused may be fatal and claim life, if severe. Some factors that can cause GBM tumour are:

  • Genetic factors and family history.
  • HIV infections.
  • Exposure to harmful radiations.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle or eating habits, along with the habit of smoking, which multiply the risks.


Some risks of GBM tumour are:

  • Depression.
  • Insomnia.
  • Brain swelling.
  • Spreading of tumour.
  • Recurrence.

How is it diagnosed?

The diagnosis of the disease begins with a brief of the patient’s medical history. Our doctor at Medanta might ask questions about your past illness, family history, existing symptoms and their d...

How is it treated?

There is no definite cure for the disease. The available treatments aim to provide relief from pain and symptoms, improving the quality of life and survival. Surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy may be advised depending on the patient’s h..

  • Surgery

    The goal of surgery is to carefully remove the tumour and affected the skin. It aims to restrict the tumour from spreading further. This is the first step for treatment, and the tissue extracted can be tested under the microscope to confirm glioblastoma diagnosis.

  • Radiation Therapy

    After the surgery, radiation therapy is performed. An external beam of radiation is focused or pointed on the affected area to kill the cancerous cells. Proton therapy, interstitial radiation, or brachytherapy are some of the common radiation therapies used for treatment. The procedure reduces the chances of damage to surrounding brain tissues.

  • Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy uses drugs to deactivate the cancerous cells and stop their growth. The drugs can either be given orally or injected directly. The treatment destroys cancerous cells and prevents their reproduction.

When do I contact the doctor?

If you are experiencing vision problems, persistent headache, feeling of nausea and vomiting, visit your doctor immediately for consultation.

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