Glioblastoma is a fast-growing type of tumor that can form in the brain or spinal cord. The condition mostly affects adults.
If your primary care doctor suspects you have a brain or spinal cord tumor, you may be referred to a neurologist for testing. The following tests are typically used to help diagnose glioblastomas:
Every glioblastoma is unique, as is every patient's needs and preferences. The neurosurgeons and cancer specialists at Mass General Brigham will work with you and your family to develop a treatment plan to address your particular situation.
Unfortunately, glioblastomas can be aggressive and may respond variably to different therapies. They tend to return even with therapy and thus require ongoing monitoring and treatment.
At Mass General Brigham, you will find all of the latest treatments for glioblastomas. Your care team may use one or more of the following approaches to give you the best chance at a successful outcome.
In surgery for glioblastoma, your neurosurgeon removes as much of the tumor as safely possible. This can be challenging, as glioblastomas often spread to healthy brain tissue nearby. Following surgery, you may undergo radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to target any remaining cells.
Mass General Brigham employs all the latest surgical approaches for glioblastomas. Among the advanced procedures available here is fluorescence-guided surgery using 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA). This agent lights up the glioblastoma cells in the operating room, allowing for more complete tumor removal. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of 5-ALA for this purpose in 2017. It has not yet widely available outside of the United States.
Our surgical team is also skilled in awake brain surgery. These procedures are performed while you are awake but sedated. They enable us to monitor and test you in the operating room when removing a tumor near an area of the brain controlling language, vision or motor skills.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to shrink or kill cancer cells without damaging healthy normal cells around the tumor. In the case of glioblastoma, radiation therapy is generally delivered as a daily low dose over several weeks, balancing the anti-tumor effect with the risk of side effects.
Chemotherapy uses drugs (given intravenously or orally) to destroy cancer cells. Your care team may employ chemotherapy to stop your glioblastoma from growing following surgery and/or radiation.
Meet Mass General Brigham's multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons and other glioblastoma experts.
Each year, thousands of patients from more than 140 countries travel to Mass General Brigham for medical care, second opinions and treatments unavailable anywhere else in the world.
Mass General Brigham is experienced in caring for glioblastoma patients who are traveling great distances to our hospitals in Boston. Your cancer team here and our international patient services team will help you prepare for and plan the appropriate amount of time to stay in Boston for your appointments, treatments and any recovery time. During this recovery time in Boston or back home in your country, our clinical team will monitor your well-being and progressions to continuously optimize your treatment plan and symptoms.
Many of our international patients have questions about everything from travel and lodging to scheduling appointments. Our international patient services team is here to help. We look forward to making your Mass General Brigham experience as healing and stress-free as possible.
Learn more about our neuro-oncology expertise.