Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

A glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a cancerous tumor that arises from the star-shaped cells (astrocytes) that make up the “glue-like” or supportive tissue of the brain. Glioblastomas can be highly malignant because the cells reproduce quickly and are supported by a large network of blood vessels. Glioblastomas usually contain a mix of cell types. It is not uncommon for these malignant tumors to contain calcium deposits, cystic minerals, blood vessels, or a mixed grade of cells. Glioblastomas can be found anywhere in the brain or spinal cord, but they are generally found in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain.

Because glioblastomas come from normal brain cells, it is easy for them to invade and live within normal brain tissue, but these tumors rarely spread elsewhere in the body.

The two types of glioblastomas are:

  • Primary or de novo – the most common form; they make their presence known by forming quickly and are very aggressive.
  • Secondary – have a longer, somewhat slower growth history, but are still very aggressive. They may begin as lower-grade tumors which eventually become higher grade. They tend to be found in people younger than 45 years of age and represent about 10% of glioblastomas.

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) causes

The cause of glioblastoma multiforme tumors is unknown in most cases. Risk factors include:

  • Race and genetic factors
  • Head injury
  • Occupational hazards
  • Cell phone use
  • Age (they’re most common after 50 years of age)

Glioblastoma Multiforme Symptoms

The most common symptoms of glioblastomas are usually caused by increased pressure in the brain and can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Depending on the location of the tumor, people can develop other symptoms, such as memory and/or speech difficulties, weakness on one side of the body and visual changes.

Getting Diagnosed

Our team of specialists at the Brain Tumor Center provides the most up-to-date evaluations using the latest diagnostic and imaging technology to diagnose glioblastoma multiforme tumors.

The Brain Tumor Center works very closely with the departments of neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, neurology, and radiation oncology, to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for the best outcome.

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) treatment

Glioblastoma treatment varies on the particular characteristics of the tumor. Radiation and chemotherapy are sometimes used to treat glioblastoma multiforme tumors. Advanced treatments, including radioactive seed implants and stereotactic radiosurgery, are also being used in some patients with promising results. The Brain Tumor Center conducts and participates in numerous clinical trials for glioblastoma and conducts cutting edge clinical and basic science research at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Glioblastoma prognosis varies depending on the age of the patient, the type of tumor and whether or not the tumor can be removed. 


Make an appointment

Call now to find a Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute physician.

The Neuroscience Institute

We are dedicated to the world-class diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases and disorders.