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Glioblastoma Awareness Day: How Long Can A Person With Glioblastoma Survive?

Glioblastoma Awareness Day: How Long Can A Person With Glioblastoma Survive?

Dr Praveen Gupta, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, shares the diagnosis, treatment and survival rates for glioblastoma.

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : July 20, 2022 12:34 PM IST

Glioblastoma Awareness Day 2022: Glioblastoma is an aggressive brain cancer that spreads to nearby brain tissue but not other organs. It is the most common type of malignant brain tumour among adults. It is more common in older adults. It usually causes the following symptoms: constant headaches worse at night, seizures, vomiting, confusion, personality changes, visual difficulty, facial deviation and slurring speech. The cause of glioblastoma is wholly unknown. The average age for diagnosis is 64. Men are more likely to have it. It may be more common among white people than among Blackened Asian ethnic groups. Such patients are older and have a shorter life expectancy. In others, a slowly growing tumour may metamorphose into an aggressive, fast-growing glioblastoma. These people are younger and have a better life expectancy.

Dr Praveen Gupta, Principal Director & HOD, Neurology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, has shared the diagnosis, treatment and survival rates for glioblastoma.


The diagnosis is confirmed by a brain MRI, enhanced by contrast. Perfusion MRIs can help to gauge the aggressiveness of the tumour. The diagnosis is confirmed by studying a part of the tumour excised from the brain called a biopsy. On biopsy, glioblastoma is a grade 4 brain tumour consisting of cells that multiply quickly.

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Glioblastoma treatment aims to slow and control tumour growth and improve quality and longevity. However, currently, none of the treatments is curative.

  1. Surgery is often the first treatment. As it may not be possible to remove it altogether in all cases, the surgeon tries to remove the tumour as possible.
  2. Radiation is an essential component of treatment instrumental in killing as many leftover tumour cells as possible after surgery. It can also slow the growth of tumours that can't be removed by surgery.
  3. Chemotherapy, usually with Temozolomide, further helps to control tumour growth and recurrence. It is the most common chemotherapy drug doctors use for glioblastoma. However, other drugs like Carmustine (BCNU) and lomustine (CCNU) might also be used.
  4. Other therapies like Convection-enhanced delivery (CED), electrical field therapy, wafer therapy and nanoparticles may be other treatment options.

Treatments may help with symptoms and may lead to remission. But unfortunately, glioblastomas often recur, leading to another surgery or a different form of radiation and chemotherapy. Those who become resistant to treatment need palliative care to maintain their quality of life.

Outlook And Survival Rates

Earlier, the prognosis was less than six months. However, with advancement, treatment outcomes may have slightly improved.

For glioblastoma, the survival rates are:

  • One year: 25%
  • Two years: 8-12%
  • Five years: 5%

These numbers apply to group people and give prognostic guidance to individuals. Hopefully, as treatments improve, these aggressive brain tumours may have a better outcome in the future.

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