Treatment for Glioblastoma multiforme

Last Modified: September 26, 2003


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My brother has Glioblastoma multiforme and my research shows that it does not react well to chemotherapy and that he has approximately 10 months (median) to live. Are there new medicines? bone marrow transplants? Is he better off to not go through the radiation and chemotherapy after affects? Please help. What would an expert do? 


, Josep Dalmau, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Neurology and Director of the Neuro-oncology Laboratory at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania responds:, responds:

Glioblastoma multiforme is one of the most aggressive malignant brain tumors of the adult. All studies show that treatment of the tumor improves the quality and quantity of life of these patients. Therefore, we recommend treatment for patients with this type of tumor. The conventional treatment includes: surgery, focal radiation therapy and chemotherapy (usually BCNU or Temozolamide). In general, patients tolerate these treatments well. An alternative approach is to look for clinical trials open at all major institutions. Patients that receive conventional treatment with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also be enrolled in clinical trials if the tumor does not respond to the conventional treatment. The median survival of 10 months results from series comprising extensive number of patients. Some patients live shorter and others much longer than 10 months. In exceptional cases, patients get cured.

In our Institution, the experts in brain tumors comprise an extensive team of doctors and nurses that evaluate the clinical status of the patient and all the information (i.e., MRI or CAT scan films, and the pathology slides). After, this comprehensive review is completed (it takes 5-7 days) a final recommendation is made by the team of doctors.