What is Glioblastoma: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

If you have been diagnosed with Glioblastoma, there are treatments to help you live better and relieve your symptoms.

Glioblastoma is a type of astrocytoma, cancer that forms from star-shaped cells in the brain called astrocytes. This cancer usually begins in the brain in adults, in the most significant part of your brain.

How common is it?

Almost 1 in 5 tumors that originate in the brain are glioblastomas. Men are more likely than women. Moreover, the possibilities increase with age.

How serious is it?

Glioblastoma tumors are usually highly malignant or cancerous. These are 4th-grade tumors, which means they can proliferate and spread quickly.

The symptoms

Because glioblastomas proliferate, the pressure in the brain usually causes the first symptoms to manifest. Depending on the location of the tumor, it can cause:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Convulsions
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Double or blurred vision.
  • Difficulty speaking

How do tumors become Glioblastoma?

There are two kinds:

Primary Glioblastoma is the most common. It starts as a 4th-grade tumor and is very aggressive.


Secondary Glioblastoma. Start as a 2nd or 3rd-grade tumor, and grow slower. Then it becomes 4th grade. About 10% of glioblastomas are of this type. They tend to occur at approximately 45 years of age.


A neurologist, a doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating brain disorders, will perform a complete examination. Depending on the symptoms, it may include an MRI or CT scan and other tests.


Glioblastoma treatment aims to slow down and control tumor growth to improve quality of life. There are three commonly known treatments available:

Surgery is the first treatment. The surgeon tries to eliminate as many tumors as possible. In high-risk areas of the brain, the surgeon may be unable to remove the entire tumor.

Radiation is used to kill as many leftover tumor cells as possible after surgery. It can also reduce the growth of tumors that can not be removed by surgery.

Chemotherapy can also be used. Temozolomide is the most common chemotherapy drug used for Glioblastoma. Chemotherapy can cause short-term side effects, but it is much less toxic than it used to be.