How is Glioblastoma treated?

A glioblastoma is a fast-growing type of brain tumor. For patients who are diagnosed with a glioblastoma, we work closely with you and your family to develop a treatment plan that suit your needs. Glioblastomas, also called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), may be treated by:

  • Surgery to safely remove as much tumor as possible. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may follow.
  • Radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to slow growth of tumors that cannot be removed with surgery. In some instances (such as for larger tumors), the radiation treatment is divided, or fractionated, over several days. In this instance the treatment is called stereotactic radiotherapy, or SRT.
  • New drugs and combination therapies currently in clinical trials at Brigham and Women’s. Some of these target tumor growth or trigger an immune response.

For some patients, glioblastoma treatment may combine several different approaches. Glioblastomas can be difficult to treat because the tumors contain many different types of cells.  Some tumors may respond to certain therapies, while others will not. Despite significant advances in treating glioblastomas, they frequently return and require ongoing imaging and treatment.

What are the Glioblastoma treatment options at Brigham and Women’s Hospital?

Our experienced neurosurgeons treat hundreds of glioblastoma patients each year. For each patient, our neurosurgeons collaborate with cancer specialists to develop a personalized treatment plan, using the most up-to-date treatments. 

Enhanced Precision through Image-Guided Surgery

Brigham and Women’s is home to the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) Suite bringing advanced imaging equipment into the operating room – offering patients the most precise and effective therapies for gliomas. AMIGO allows our neurosurgeons to directly visualize the tumor to safely remove tissue. This resource and experience treating patients with image guided neurosurgery is unmatched in New England. In this video see how our advanced brain mapping paves the way for personalized, accurate surgery.

New Treatments and Research for Glioblastoma

With more than 20 research faculty in the Brigham and Women’s Neurosurgery Department and more than $10 million in research funding each year, our clinical trials bring new therapies to patients. Our patients may have access to many such trials through the Brigham and Women’s Department of Neurosurgery and the Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. Areas of focus include developing and refining new surgical and radiation techniques, developing new therapies that help the immune system fight cancer, delivering drugs directly to the brain, and studying the genetics of brain cancers.

Dana-Farber Collaboration

As part of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, our neurosurgeons collaborate with clinicians at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to develop individual treatment plans for each of our patients. Our joint Neuro-Oncology Center offers the latest advances in care for patients with brain tumors and neurologic complications from cancer. Together we are ranked the #4 cancer center in the nation, and the #1 program in New England, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit

In the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, one of the largest such units in the country, critical care specialists are available 24/7. The medical team includes neuro-radiologists who analyze your imaging, neuro-pathologists who diagnose tumor type, and neuro-anesthesiologists who specialize in assisting your surgical treatment.

Contact the Brain Tumor Center

The Department of Neurosurgery includes 23 neurosurgeons – among them world leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of glioblastomas. In additional to their exceptional technical skill, our neurosurgeons are known for their clear communication, compassion, ample time spent with patients, and personal care and attention

We understand that confronting a brain tumor can be frightening for many people and their families, and we are aware of the challenges this presents. A guiding principle of the Department of Neurosurgery is to put the patient and family first. We emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment. Your physicians are accessible to you throughout your care – before, during and after the treatment period.

Our team of neurosurgeons with deep expertise in treating glioblastomas includes:

To schedule an appointment with a physician in the Brain Tumor Center, please contact our Patient Coordinator at: (617) 732-6600. We see new patients with a brain tumor diagnosis as soon as the next business day.

If you are a physician seeking to refer a patient to the Brain Tumor Center, please call (617) 732-6600 or you can access our physicians’ office phone numbers. To contact one of our physicians with a question, patient referral or second opinion, you may also email: BWHNeurosurgery@partners.org.

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