Determining Your Best Treatment for Glioblastoma

Determining Your Best Treatment for Glioblastoma

Glioblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor diagnosed in adults. Though it’s usually found after age 65, these tumors are increasingly diagnosed in adults younger than 40.

At any age, nothing is more important than connecting with a skilled neurosurgeon like Richard B. Kim, MD, who specializes in glioblastoma and can quickly identify this aggressive tumor.

After diagnosing the tumor, he discusses the best treatment, performs brain surgery, and supports you throughout nonsurgical treatment. Here, he discusses glioblastoma symptoms and treatments.

About glioblastoma

Glioblastoma, which accounts for half of all brain tumors, is a malignant (cancerous) tumor that grows rapidly, sending out finger-like projections that invade the surrounding brain tissues.

If you have glioblastoma, you have the same general symptoms as all brain tumors. But you may also have varying symptoms, depending on the location and size of the growth.

You may experience:

Glioblastoma is such an aggressive cancer that it’s essential to seek treatment as early as possible. If you have any of the symptoms in this list, and they don’t improve or they worsen (especially if you have severe headache pain), schedule an appointment right away.

Treating glioblastoma

Glioblastoma can develop anywhere in the brain, but often grows in or near areas that control body movement, language, and sensations. Though treatment is personalized, most glioblastomas are treated with surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy. 


Removing glioblastoma tumors is especially challenging because they’re surrounded by a zone of cancer cells spreading into the nearby tissues. During surgery, I remove as much of the tumor as possible, while preserving the healthy tissues and protecting optimal functioning. 

Eliminating the maximum amount of the tumor improves your symptoms and reduces pressure inside your skull. It also improves your treatment by removing cancer cells that may resist radiation or chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy

Cancer cells that remain in your brain are killed when treated with radiation. I may recommend one of several types of radiation therapy:

Standard external beam radiation

Standard radiation involves multiple sessions of radiation delivered to the tumor and the surrounding tissues. Though radiation damages healthy tissues along with cancer cells, normal brain cells repair the damage. Cancer cells don’t heal, so repeated radiation treatment kills them.

Radiosurgery (stereotactic radiotherapy)

This radiation treatment uses an advanced delivery system to precisely focus the radiation on the tumor. I usually recommend radiosurgery for recurrent tumors.


You typically receive chemotherapy every time you go in for radiation therapy. Then you have 6-12 cycles of chemotherapy after radiation treatments end. Each cycle includes 5 days of chemotherapy followed by 23 days of rest.

Tumor-treatment fields

Treatment fields, also called electrical field therapy, use low-intensity electrical currents (delivered through a cap placed on your head) to stop the growth of cancer cells.

Targeted drug therapy

Targeted drug therapy is an emerging field for treating glioblastomas. This treatment uses medications precisely designed to target specific activities in cancer cells, preventing them from growing and spreading. For example, one drug for glioblastoma stops tumors from producing the blood vessels they need to grow.

If you have any questions about glioblastoma or your symptoms, call Richard B. Kim, MD, or request an appointment online today.

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