Treatments for GBM
Finding out that you or a loved one has glioblastoma, or GBM, can be overwhelming. In the blink of an eye, you may feel that your life is turned upside down, and you have to make major treatment decisions. So, where do you start?
Things to consider when selecting treatments
Now is the time to speak with your doctor about the treatments available to you. Things to ask your doctor at this time include:
- What are the treatment options for GBM?
- What are the expected results of these treatments?
- What are the possible side effects?
- Can this treatment be given close to home, or will I need to travel or relocate for a while?
- What impact will treatment have on my ability to work or do normal activities?
Treatments for newly diagnosed GBM
By talking to your doctor and doing research on your own, you may learn that a diagnosis and treatment plan for GBM can include:
Surgery may be conducted first to remove as much of the tumor as possible and/or to take a sample of the tumor to make a diagnosis of the tumor type. Sometimes, people need to be awake for surgery so that surgeons can ask questions that help them protect important parts of the brain
- During this time, your doctor may also test the tumor for tumor markers. Tumor markers may indicate which treatments may work better for you
- Radiation may be used after surgery. A big machine is used to aim beams of high-energy X-rays, gamma rays, or protons at your head in order to kill the tumor cells inside. This outpatient treatment is usually done over the course of several weeks at a hospital or clinic
- Chemotherapy refers to drugs that are used to kill cancer cells. You might be given chemotherapy in the form of a pill, an IV in the outpatient part of a hospital, or a dissolving wafer that a surgeon implants in your brain
- Optune is used together with the chemotherapy temozolomide (TMZ). When Optune is turned on, it creates low-intensity electric fields called Tumor Treating Fields, or TTFields, that may slow or stop GBM cancer cells from multiplying, and may destroy some of them. TTFields are delivered through a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device called Optune
*Temozolomide also known as Temodar®.
Treatments for recurrent GBM
If you or your loved one has recurrent GBM, there are other tools that can be used to treat it this time around. Your doctors may recommend a number of treatments, including:
- Surgery—If the tumor is located in a spot that doctors can reach, additional surgery may be recommended to remove more of the tumor
- Radiation—High-energy X-rays, gamma rays, or protons that are beamed at the head to kill tumor cells, may be recommended again
- Chemotherapy—Additional chemotherapy drugs may be given to kill more of the tumor cells
- Antiangiogenic therapy—A type of drug that helps to starve tumor cells by stopping the growth of the blood vessels that feed them
- Optune—When turned on, it creates low-intensity electric fields called Tumor Treating Fields, or TTFields, that may slow or stop GBM cells from dividing and may also destroy some of them. TTFields are delivered through a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device called Optune
This may be the first time you’re hearing about Optune. Your doctor may have even given you the choice between Optune and another round of chemotherapy. You can learn more about the benefits and side effects of Optune here.