Glioblastoma Awareness Day 2022: Early signs of the deadly brain cancer
Glioblastoma Awareness Day 2022: Know all about glioblastoma, an aggressive type of cancer that can occur at any age and is difficult to treat.
Glioblastoma is one of the deadliest and highly aggressive kind of brain cancer and is extremely difficult to treat. The high-grade brain tumour accounts for more than 20 percent of all brain tumours. Experts say initial symptoms can range anything from headache to forgetfulness to numbness or dizziness. (Also read: World Brain Tumour Day 2022: Watch out for these early signs of brain tumour among youngsters)
According to National Brain Tumour Society, the five-year survival rate for glioblastoma patients is only 6.8 percent, and the average length of survival for glioblastoma patients is estimated to be only 8 months. According to the Brain Tumour Society, apart from being life-threatening, Glioblastoma and its treatments inflict wreaks havoc upon the brain areas which controls cognition, mood, behaviour, and many other functions. Many patients may lose their ability to work, drive, and a host of other things that could lower their quality of life.
Glioblastoma Awareness Day is observed each year on the third Wednesday of July to recognize the impact of this devastating disease and the need to advance research, raise awareness, and take action to ultimately cure glioblastoma. This year it falls on July 22.
"Glioblastoma is a carcinoma arising from astrocytes which are supporting nerve cells in the brain. Glioblastoma may also arise in the spinal cord. It can occur at any age, but peak incidence is middle age. Incidence is higher in males (ratio of approximately 1.6:1)," says Dr Jaideep Bansal, Director and HOD Neurology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh.
Symptoms of Glioblastoma
Dr Bansal says initial symptoms may be very subtle like slowness in comprehension, confusion, forgetfulness, undue irritability, slowing of reaction time, intolerance to light, headache, vomiting, dizziness, or numbness of one half of the body.
"Some patients may present with rapidly increasing weakness of one-half of the body (hemiplegia) or a seizure in an otherwise healthy person. Glioblastoma patients may have blurring of vision or double vision, imbalance while walking, difficulty in holding objects, slurring of speech, bed wetting, focal or generalized seizures, and increasing drowsiness and confusion," says Dr Bansal.
How the disease progresses and symptoms worsen
As the disease progresses headache may be more severe especially during the night or on awakening, vomiting may be more recurrent, hemiplegia and sensorium continue to deteriorate and ultimately patient becomes bedridden.
"Eventually patients die because of raised intracranial pressure leading to deterioration in sensorium and respiratory failure and causing chest infection, aspiration, septicaemia and multi-organ failure. If untreated about 80% don't survive more than one year. Only 10% survive beyond 2 years. With aggressive surgical removal and radiotherapy survival rate may increase," says the expert.
Glioblastoma treatment according to mayoclinic includes surgery to remove the tumour followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Tumour treating fields (TTF) therapy is also used to disrupt the tumour cells' ability to multiply.