All About Glioblastoma Multiforme: Symptoms, Screening, Grades, Stage 4 Treatments and More

Sharing Expertise and Answering Key Questions About this Aggressive Primary Brain Tumor

At The Morrison Clinic™, we are committed to helping you achieve your best quality of life. Expert care you can understand is one way we deliver on that commitment. That means sharing our expertise and equipping you with the knowledge and information you need to fully evaluate critical matters pertaining to your health. 

With certain cases, this need is even more complex and serious than with others. Glioblastoma, a stage IV cancerous tumor that occurs in the brain or spine, is one of those cases. 

Also known as glioblastoma multiforme, it is an extremely aggressive form of cancer with no known cure – and one that we have significant expertise treating.  

In our experience, patients often have a number of common, important questions about the condition itself, their options, and why our Florida neurosurgeon’s office is highly equipped to help them in this battle.

Follow us through the key facts and considerations below. 

Glioma Grades and Diagnosing Glioblastoma Multiforme (Stage 4)

It is important to understand that glioblastoma is a particular medical condition that begins as a glioma. 

This means that not every glioma is glioblastoma – so it’s essential to note the differences outlined below. 

Gliomas are graded on a scale of one to four: 

Grade I gliomas typically grow slowly and often evolve in a benign manner. 

Both grade II and grade III gliomas are known to grow more quickly than grade I. Because of this, they almost always require more aggressive treatment. Grade III gliomas are malignant and no longer resemble the healthy cells from which they were derived.

Grade IV gliomas are the most aggressive. They are what specifically qualify as having the condition of glioblastoma itself – formerly known as glioblastoma multiforme, and also known as astrocytoma

Glioblastoma is often diagnosed by a MRI intended to detect tumors or swelling. A biopsy may later be performed to confirm the diagnosis.  

Glioblastoma Multiforme Symptoms: When to Get Screened 

One of the most critical questions people ask is: how do I know when I need to get screened for glioblastoma?

In other words: what symptoms would I be experiencing?

Our expertise tells us these are the most common and significant symptoms of glioblastoma: 

  • Headaches: Often the first indication of a glioma, headaches from brain tumors appear with greater frequency over time, and are unlikely to be resolved with over-the-counter pain medicine like a normal headache is. Headaches from a glioma also often get worse when you are laying down.  
  • Seizures: Seizures related to glioma can present in numerous different ways, including numbness, tingling, difficulty speaking, strange smells or sensations and staring unresponsively into the distance. 
  • Changes in function or personality: Brain tumors often effect your mental focus or engagement with topics at work, and can cause one to feel inefficient as a result. You may also feel drowsy, confused or unable to execute your normal logical functions. Depression and anxiety, especially when on-set suddenly, may be an early sign of a tumor. Brain tumor are also known to cause changes in everyday behavior, such as a loss or repression of inhibitions.
  • Changes in speech: Speaking incoherently, or unable to construct or process your native language, is a common symptom of glioblastoma. 
  • Sensory changes: Changes in the ability to hear, smell or see, including double or blurred vision can be symptoms of a brain tumor. People with glioblastoma also often lose their ability to feel heat, cold, pressure being placed on parts of their body, or ascertain sharpness in objects – such as edges on a table or countertop. 
  • Changes in pulse and breathing rates: This symptom usually occurs with a brain tumor compresses the brain stem, which controls basic bodily functions including breathing and the heart rate.

Additional common symptoms of glioblastoma multiforme include: 

  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

Unfortunately, most glioblastomas are not discovered until symptoms are severe and require an emergency department visit.

See more about glioblastoma symptoms and the condition itself here. 

Differences Between Glioblastoma and Other Primary Brain Tumors

Because the symptoms are similar and because glioblastoma is itself a type of primary brain tumor, or glioma, our patients often ask how glioblastoma is different than brain tumors that are not gliomas. 

Here are some of the key distinctions that make glioblastoma unique:

  • Gliomas begin as glial cells; supportive cells in your brain and spine that help your nerve cells function 
  • Most gliomas are locally invasive, but it is very uncommon for them to metastasize to other organs
  • Glioblastoma itself is malignant, whereas every primary brain tumor is not malignant 

If you need more details on how we can help screen, diagnose or treat a primary brain tumor, contact us today.

Glioma and Glioblastoma Multiforme Treatment Approaches 

  • Watch and wait: This approach is most common in stage I and stage II glioma patients. The purpose is to monitor any growth or transformation in the cells of the tumor itself, thereby avoiding surgery. 
  • Therapy: Radiation, chemotherapy or targeted drug therapy can begin as soon as a glioma reaches stage II. In more advanced gliomas, therapy is often combined with surgical treatment, being administered post-surgery.
  • Surgical resection of glioma or glioblastoma: The Morrison Clinic views time of the essence with a stage III or stage IV glioma, and seeks to remove it immediately. The goal is to remove as much of the tumor as safely as possible. But because glioblastoma grows into the normal brain tissue, complete removal is not always possible due to the risk of causing injury. For this reason, most patients receive additional therapy treatments after surgery to target the remaining cells. In certain cases where the tumor is easily accessible, Dr. Morrison may recommend surgical removal for stage I and stage II glioma patients. 
  • Clinical trials: Clinical trials are studies of new treatments possibilities, which afford patients the opportunity to receive the latest treatment options. The risk of side effects may not be known.  
  • Supportive (palliative) care: Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness. Palliative care specialists work with you, your family and your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support that complements your ongoing care. Palliative care can be used while undergoing other aggressive treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy, Chemotherapy and Other Treatment Options 

The Morrison Clinic™ also partners to offer a variety of non-surgical therapy options for helping you treat glioblastoma: 

  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Tumor treating fields (TTF) therapy
  • Targeted drug therapy

See more details about these specific non-surgical glioblastoma treatment options here, and note that sometimes they are combined with clinical trials, or even surgery itself, to help slow the progression of your glioma.

Our Unique Glioblastoma Expertise: Dr. Morrison’s Training

At this point, you may be wondering how to choose a glioblastoma surgeon, or what separates one neurosurgery clinic‘s capabilities from another. The difference is in the details — and The Morrison Clinic’s glioblastoma expertise is rooted in specialized training.

To perform glioblastoma multiforme surgery, Dr. Morrison rigorously trained using the most advanced tissue sparing and neuron tract preserving techniques. This not only helps achieve a safe resection of the tumor — in order to give the patient the best possible prognosis — but also means that he is specifically-focused on the quality of your life post-surgery.

Not every neurosurgeon posseses such specialized training, and we invite you to contact us for a first or second opinion in your battle against this aggressive cancer.

Concierge Neurosurgery Care for Glioblastoma 

Patients throughout the United States and the world choose The Morrison Clinic™ for their glioblastoma multiforme treatment needs. 

When visiting our offices for glioblastoma treatment, the stresses of travel, scheduling, and follow-up care can become overwhelming quickly. And frankly, they are the last thing you need to be worried about when diagnosed with this condition. That’s why we offer an elevated level of care that provides added assistance in overcoming these concerns – our Concierge Neurosurgery service. 

By focusing on these areas with detail and dedication to your satisfaction, our concierge services lessen the burden on your time and ease the stress on you during this challenging period — so you can fully focus on your health and recovery. 

Think You Have Glioblastoma Multiforme Symptoms? What to do Next

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of a stage IV glioma (glioblastoma multiforme) described above, do not delay in acting. 

Contact The Morrison Clinic™ for an e-consultation or in-person appointment to discuss your symptoms immediately. Time is of the essence, and The Morrison Clinic™ is committed to helping you make the most of it when you have glioblastoma multiforme treatment needs. 

If you have already been an admitted to hospital with glioblastoma as a likely diagnosis, contact us immediately at 561-284-8455 for a second opinion, which can be given virtually, or to be transferred to our care.