Tests and procedures used to diagnose glioblastoma include:
- Neurological examination: This type of examination assesses vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength, and reflexes. Problems in one or more of these areas might provide insights into the region of the brain affected by the glioblastoma.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests can assist in locating and determining the size of a glioblastoma. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is frequently employed to diagnose glioblastoma. Other imaging tests that may be utilized include Computed Tomography (CT) scans and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans.
- Tissue sample extraction for testing: A biopsy is a procedure that involves extracting a sample of tissue for testing. It can be performed using a needle biopsy before surgery or as part of the surgical removal of the glioblastoma. The obtained tissue sample is sent to a laboratory for testing, which can reveal whether the cells are cancerous and specifically glioblastoma cells.
Treatment options for glioblastoma include the following:
- Surgical Intervention: A neurosurgeon will perform surgery to remove as much of the glioblastoma tumor as possible. Due to its invasive nature, complete removal may not always be achievable. Often, additional treatments are needed to address any remaining cancer cells.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high–energy beams like X–rays or protons to eliminate cancer cells. During this procedure, patients lie on a table, while a machine administers targeted radiation to specific areas of the brain. Radiation therapy is typically recommended post–surgery and may be combined with chemotherapy. For those ineligible for surgery, it can be the primary treatment.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy employs potent medications to destroy cancer cells. After surgery and sometimes concurrently with radiation therapy, patients may take chemotherapy in pill form. In some cases, intravenous chemotherapy may be used to treat recurrent glioblastoma. Additionally, thin wafers containing chemotherapy drugs can be implanted during surgery, gradually releasing the medication to combat cancer cells.
- Tumor Treating Fields (TTF) Therapy: TTF therapy disrupts cancer cell multiplication through electrical fields. It involves attaching adhesive pads to the scalp, which are connected to a portable device generating an electrical field. TTF is often combined with chemotherapy and may be considered following radiation therapy.
- Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy employs drugs that specifically target chemicals within cancer cells, leading to their demise.
- Clinical Trials: Clinical trials offer access to cutting–edge treatments. However, the potential risks and side effects may not be fully understood. Patients should consult their healthcare providers to explore participation in clinical trials.
- Supportive Care (Palliative Care): Supportive care, also known as palliative care, concentrates on alleviating pain and other symptoms associated with serious illnesses. It complements other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy to enhance the overall quality of life during treatment.