What causes Glioblastoma?
The precise risk factors of GBM is not clearly known, this being a very infrequent type of tumour. However, some factors may be derived from common features reported in a few reported glioblastoma patients.
Risk factors are those that make a person more likely to develop glioblastoma. Studies on the precise risk factors of GBM have been inconclusive, this being a very infrequent type of tumour. Majority of the cases are sporadic and no risk factor accounting for a large proportion of GBMs has been identified yet. Some factors may be derived from common features identified in a few reported glioblastoma patients, which are listed below. However, GBM risk being poorly understood, having one or more below-mentioned factors need not necessarily mean that the person will develop cancer. Also, GBM is rare in children.
- History of prior exposure to radiation in the head or neck region
- Men are reported to be at a slightly higher risk and some studies suggest a role for sex hormones in GBM risk
- Being 65 years of age or older. Although GBM may occur at any age, the peak incidence is reported to occur in individuals 65 years or older
- Having certain genetic disorders such as neurofibromatosis
- Excessive alcohol consumption
What are the known symptoms of Glioblastoma?
Patients who have glioblastoma have been shown to develop symptoms rapidly because of the fast growing mass of tumour itself and/or from the fluid surrounding the tumour. The fluid causes the brain to swell further. So, at diagnosis, the common symptoms are related to increased pressure in the brain. Others include neurological symptoms which are dependent on the tumour location. Should any of these warning symptoms develop, they should be promptly discussed with a doctor. It should be noted that having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily indicate cancer. Only a doctor can confirm this:
- frequent headaches and drowsiness
- nausea, vomiting, and severe headaches that are typically worse in the morning
- sensory changes of face, arm or leg
- balance difficulties
- difficulty in remembering, which increases with time (progressive memory issues)
- changes in ability to think and learn (cognition issues)
- epileptic seizures
- difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia)
- speech difficulty (gradual onset and progression)
- increasing difficulty in mobility (ability to move)
- double or blurred vision
- Very rarely intratumoural haemorrhage occurs and patients may present acutely with stroke-like symptoms and signs
CT/CAT scan: Computed Tomography scan GBM: Glioblastoma multiforme MRI scan: Magnetic resonance imaging scan MRS: Magnetic resonance spectroscopy PET scan: Positron emission tomography scan rGBM: Recurrent glioblastoma multiforme TMZ: temozolomide VEGF: Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor
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