Glioblastoma

„Research on such a serious condition as glioblastoma teaches us about the humility of life and our responsibility to those affected by this disease. We rely upon and are grateful for sponsors, such as the Anni Hofmann Foundation as we strive to make a lasting contribution to improving the treatment options for this disease.“

 

Prof. Dr. Christel Herold Mende

 

What is a glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma is a brain-derived tumor that develops form the glial cells of the brain. Due to the very poor prognosis, this aggressively growing tumor is classified as grade IV according to the WHO classification of tumors of the central nervous system. 

The average age of those affected is between 45 and 70 years, but younger patients may also be affected. Men are about twice as likely to be affected as w.

Glioblastomas can be born entirely new or through progressive dedifferentiation from fewer malignant tumor types. The most common localization is the cerebrum, whereas in the cerebellum, brain stem and spinal cord glioblastomas are rare.

Symptoms and disease course

Within a few weeks to months, symptoms steadily increase: First symptoms may be persistent headache, but also new epileptic seizures. Failures such as paralysis, aphasia and blurred vision may be localized, as well as abnormal personality changes, apathy or psychomotor slowdown. 

Neoplastic degeneration (by genetic mutation) of the stem and progenitor cells along the lateral ventricle is believed to produce the tumors of the cerebrum. Most mutations involve signal transduction pathways that determine the growth behavior of stem and progenitor cells. This leads to an uncontrolled cell proliferation.

Glioblastoma interacts strongly with the surrounding, healthy cells of the brain. With increasing growth, the gliomas initiate their own blood supply, colonize new brain areas, actively suppress the immune system of the brain and thus escape the attacks of immune cells.

Statistically, the survival time of glioblastoma patients after diagnosis is on average 12-14 months but may be significantly higher in individual cases. The cause of death is ultimately the tumor mass as well as the tumor-induced accumulation of fluid in the brain tissue, which depresses the vital areas.

Diagnostic and therapeutic approaches

Imaging procedures such as MRI or CT are used for the diagnosis, which is ultimately confirmed by the analysis of extracted tumor issue. The glioblastoma is often already larger than 2 cm in diameter at diagnosis. 

As a therapy, the neurosurgical operation with reduction of the main mass of the tumor is currently used, supported by radiation and chemotherapy. Tumor reduction can slow the progression of the disease, but it cannot permanently prevent it. A complete removal of the tumor is practically impossible since individual tumor cells rapidly infiltrate the healthy brain tissue. Therefore, glioblastoma is usually recurrent within one year even after successful therapy.