Epidemiology and Risk Factors
As with many types of cancer, the precise cause of GBM remains unknown in the majority of cases. Described risk factors include age greater than 50 with a slightly increased risk in men compared with women.
Many associations with occupational exposure to chemicals, ionizing radiation and potential viral causes have been studied, although none has been conclusively linked as causal agents. Rare cases of defined familial inherited cancer syndrome arise, indicating multiple family members have inherited a susceptibility to develop one or more forms of cancer.
Diagnostic Considerations and Treatment Options
Neurologic symptoms typically prompt the evaluating physician to obtain a computed tomography scan or brain magnetic resonance imaging. Surgical excision of a revealed mass is required to diagnose the tumor type definitively.
Treatment options have historically consisted of surgical resection followed by radiation therapy with or without simultaneous chemotherapy. Standard cytotoxic chemotherapy can enhance the effect of initial treatment and slow disease progression in some cases, although tumor recurrence is common. The current standard remains surgery, when possible, followed by radiation in combination with an oral chemotherapy.
For patients not healthy enough to undergo surgery, other options may include stereotactic radiosurgery or conventional fractionated radiotherapy. Bevacizumab (Avastin©) infusions have been shown to improve the outcome for recurrent GBM following standard therapy.
For more information about services at Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, visit www.ccsb.org. To refer a patient, call (805) 682-7300.