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About Glioblastoma


There is no cure for glioblastomas and they are difficult to treat. They are fast-growing and invade nearby brain tissue, making complete removal nearly impossible. The blood-brain barrier prevents certain treatments from being able to reach the tumor and be effective.

American Brain Cancer Association

How is glioblastoma treated?

Glioblastoma treatment options include:


Surgery is often the first step in treating glioblastoma. Surgery allows the medical team to get a biopsy and make a diagnosis, relieve pressure on the brain, and safely remove as much tumor as possible. Glioblastomas are diffuse and have finger-like tentacles that infiltrate the brain, which makes them very difficult to remove completely. This is particularly true when the tumors are growing near important regions of the brain that control functions such as language and movement/coordination.

Radiation and chemotherapy

Radiation therapy uses powerful energy beams to kill cancer cells. The energy can come from sources such as X-rays and protons. During radiation therapy, you lie on a table while a machine moves around you. The machine directs radiation to certain points in your brain.

Radiation therapy is usually recommended after surgery. It might be combined with chemotherapy. For people who can't have surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be the main treatment.


Chemotherapy uses strong medicines to kill cancer cells. A chemotherapy medicine taken as a pill is often used after surgery and during and after radiation therapy. Other types of chemotherapy given through a vein might be the treatment for glioblastoma that returns.

Sometimes thin, circular wafers containing chemotherapy medicine might be put in the brain during surgery. The wafers dissolve slowly, releasing the medicine to kill cancer cells.

Tumor treating fields (TTF) therapy

TTF uses an electrical field to disrupt the cancer cells' ability to multiply. TTF involves putting sticky pads on the scalp. The pads are connected to a portable device that creates an electrical field.

TTF works with chemotherapy. It might be suggested after radiation therapy.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy uses medicines that attack specific chemicals in the cancer cells. By blocking these chemicals, targeted treatments can cause cancer cells to die.

Supportive care

Supportive care, which is also called palliative care, focuses on relieving pain and other symptoms of serious illness. This extra layer of support goes with other treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Mayo Clinic American Brain Tumor Association
A brain tumor highlighted in red on an x-ray styled graphic of a human head.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are studies of new treatments. These studies provide a chance to try the latest treatments. The risk of side effects might not be known. Ask your health care provider if you might be able to be in a clinical trial.

To learn more about clinical trials, view the American Brain Tumor Association's Clinical Trials brochure:

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What are the symptoms of glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma can result in personality changes, cognitive and behavioral changes, seizures, and more.

What causes glioblastoma?

The cause of glioblastoma isn't fully understood, but there are risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing one.

How is glioblastoma diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose glioblastoma through a neurological exam, imaging tests (often MRI), and other special tests.

Make a difference

Make a donation to Up to the Sky, a memorial fund through Atrium Medical Center Foundation.

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