Glioblastoma (GBM)

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What Is a Glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma is a type of cancerous (malignant), fast-growing tumor that originates in the brain and, less frequently, in the spinal cord. Glioblastomas are the most advanced form of a group of brain tumors called gliomas.

Glioblastomas are tumors that arise from astrocytes, which are the star-shaped cells that make up the supportive tissue of the brain. These tumors are usually highly malignant (cancerous) because the cells reproduce quickly and because glioblastomas are supported by a large network of blood vessels. In addition, because glioblastomas have finger-like tentacles, they are very difficult to completely remove surgically, especially when they grow near parts of the brain that control important functions.

What Are the Symptoms of a Glioblastoma and How Is It Diagnosed?

Symptoms vary based on size and location of the tumor. They may include:

  • Persistent and worsening headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decline in balance
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss

Diagnosis includes a neurological exam with a physician for balance, reflexes, vision, hearing, and other neurological function and brain imaging (including MRI, CT, and PET).

How Is a Glioblastoma Treated?

Learn more about glioblastoma treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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