Glioblastoma Signs and Symptoms

Grade IV astrocytoma, more often known as glioblastoma, is a very malignant brain tumor with a rapid growth rate. In most cases, it affects the local brain tissue and does not metastasize to other body parts.

GBMs can develop from low-grade astrocytoma in the brain. Most cases of GBM in adults are found in the cerebral hemispheres, particularly the frontal and temporal lobes. Without treatment, GBM is a fatal brain cancer that can be fatal within six months; therefore, prompt access to professional neuro-oncological or neurosurgical care is crucial to improving overall survival.

GBMs are difficult to treat in their way because of the following −

  • Placement of Brain Tumors

  • Problems with self-repair in the brain that make standard treatment difficult to implement

  • Malignant cells spread to neighboring brain areas

  • The unpredictability of tumor blood flow, which reduces medication efficacy

  • Intracranial hypertension and fluid buildup (peritumoral edema) caused by tumor-capillary leakage.

  • Paroxysmal occurrences caused by a tumor

  • Neurotoxicity caused by glioma therapies


A brain tumor can cause a wide range of symptoms, depending on where it is located in the brain.

  • Headaches − A severe headache is the first sign of a glioblastoma tumor for many people. Headaches brought on by a brain tumor may feel different from other types of pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers may not help, and their frequency increases over time. They can be made worse by lying down, bending over, or bearing down (for example, during a bowel movement), and they may produce nausea or vomiting.

  • Seizures − Convulsions/Seizures come in a wide variety of presentations. It's good knowing that seizures cause jerky, uncontrolled movements of the arms and legs and a loss of consciousness, but there are other, more subtle signs that something is wrong. In addition to the loss of feeling or sensation, trouble speaking, unusual odors or sensations, fixation, and unresponsiveness are all signs of a seizure.

  • Changes in cognitive ability, temperament, or character − Brain tumors commonly cause depression, irritability, and decreased productivity in the workplace. Their mental faculties may become foggy, and they have a general lethargy. It has been suggested that the rapid onset of depression and anxiety might indicate a brain tumor. Loss of inhibitions is one possible behavioral alteration a brain tumor brings.

  • Speech problems − people with brain tumors may stutter, ramble, and be unable to communicate or understand language.

  • Alterations in the senses − a brain tumor may cause hearing loss, a loss of smell, or altered vision (such as double or blurred vision). The tactile sense is equally vulnerable to these changes. Brain tumor patients may have a diminished sensitivity to touch, temperature, pressure, and sharp objects.

  • Physical Disbalance − this symptom indicates imbalance, incoordination, loss of equilibrium

  • Rate changes in breathing and heartbeat − this symptom often develops when a brain tumor pushes on the brain stem, which regulates such fundamental body processes as breathing and heart rate.

A brain tumor may not necessarily cause these signs and symptoms. Nonetheless, discussing any symptoms, you're experiencing with your doctor is essential since they might indicate other health issues.

How can Medical Professionals Identify Glioblastoma?

The first thing your doctor or nurse will do is probably ask you some questions. You should expect to be questioned about current symptoms and your family's medical history. Your eyes, ears, sense of touch, muscular strength, and reflexes will all be tested. Memory and intelligence tests could also be a part of the interview. Your gait, coordination, and balance may be evaluated by having you walk or perform other tasks.

Some of the possible diagnostic procedures are −

  • MRI  The results of this examination can be used to detect malignancies, regions of edema or blood buildup, and even stroke damage. Blood vessels and nerves near the tumor might be visualized as well.

  • CT scan   With this examination, we can pinpoint the precise location of any recent bleeding and any cranial bone abnormalities or calcium deposits.

  • MRS   Many biochemical processes in the brain are evaluated here. It's possible to do that while getting an MRI.

  • Biopsy with a needle   A CT scan or MRI is utilized to guide a needle into the tumor to remove a tumor sample for analysis.

  • Analysis of blood or similar procedures   These can be used to assess your general health and the condition of certain organs.

Summing The Treatment

Most of the time, a GBM must be treated by a team of doctors from different fields. Social workers, nurses, nutritionists, and therapists also focus on physical or occupational health. Your GBM care team will work together to determine the best ways to treat and care for you.

Your treatment depends on your age, general health, personal preferences, the size of the tumor, and where in the brain it is. GBM rarely spreads to other body parts, but it does so often inside the brain.

Palliative care is a type of care that some patients only want to get. Because of this, treating cancer isn't the main goal. Its goal is to ease pain by controlling symptoms, ensuring people are comfortable, and improving their quality of life.

Active cancer treatment is a choice made by someone else. Surgery is usually the first step. The goal of surgery is to get rid of as much of the tumor as possible without affecting how well the brain works. MRI could show the surgeon exactly where to cut during the surgery. Once a tumor has been removed, it is often sent to a lab for testing to see if it is GBM.

Even cutting away a small piece of the tumor can help lower the pressure inside the head. Even if surgery can't remove a big part of a tumor, some people still go through with it. MRI can find any tumor or swelling that is still there after surgery.

Even with the most careful surgery, some tumor cells may still be left behind. This means that more treatment is needed. During surgery, your doctor may put chemotherapy wafers into the area where the tumor is. The chemo wafers slowly release their medicine only to the cancer cells.

Updated on: 07-Mar-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started