Glioblastoma Multiforme

(GBM; Brain Tumor; Malignant Astrocytoma)

Definition

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common glioma—a type of brain cancer. This cancer starts in the glial cells, which are cells that help nerve cells work.This condition can develop suddenly. It can also develop from a lower grade, less cancerous brain tumor. Most cases are located in the cerebral hemisphere of the brain. The cancer can also begin in the spinal cord or brain stem.
Brain Tumor
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Causes

GBM originates from astrocytes, which are a type of glial cell. The factors that cause normal-functioning astrocytes to become cancerous is not well understood.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chances of developing GBM include:
  • Age: over 50 years old
  • Ethnicity: Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians
  • Having a low-grade brain tumor, which occasionally develops into a higher-grade tumor
  • Having one of the following genetic disorders:
  • Having had radiotherapy
  • Working in the synthetic rubber or petroleum refining industries
  • Exposure to vinyl chloride or pesticides
  • Having had computed tomography (CT) scans during childhood

Symptoms

Symptoms include:
  • New onset headaches—more than 30% of patients
  • New onset seizures—20% to 30% patients
  • Progressive cognitive dysfunction—depends on the location of the tumor; problems with vision, language, motor function, or sensation may occur
  • Progressive neurological deficits, including weakness
  • Personality changes
  • Behavioral changes, development of inappropriate behaviors
  • Memory loss

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