Glioblastoma is a so-called deadly disease called "the terminator" and "the eraser" because fast-growing brain cancer can affect anyone, at any age, and comes with a grim prognosis. the brain can affect cognition, mood, behavior and every function of the body, leaving a previously active and otherwise healthy person unable to work or do everyday activities, the National Brain Tumor Society warned.
Wednesday marks the first annual Glioblastoma Awareness Day in the US, honoring patients, caregivers and those who have lost their lives to the disease. July 17 received that designation after the U.S. "Glioblastoma is a devastating brain disease that has taken the lives of two of my very close friends and colleagues, Ted Kennedy and my dearest friend John McCain," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) in a statement. "This Senate resolution shines a light on this terrible disease."
McCain died on August 25, 201
Beau Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden, died of glioblastoma in 2015 at the age of 46.  Brittany Maynard, and 29-year-old California woman, made national headlines in 2014 when she chose to end her life after receiving a glioblastoma diagnosis
Also called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) It is the most common and most aggressive form of brain cancer in adults, accounting for 35-40% of malignant brain tumors, according to the National Cancer Institute. About 196,000,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the US
There are no cure and treatment is difficult since glioblastoma grows tentacles into the brain rather than forming a solid mass that doctors can target and remove.
The only confirmed risk factor is radiation therapy to the head and neck, but the vast majority of glioblastomas occur randomly, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.
"It's a mistake in cell division that could happen at any time. Thankfully, it's rare, "Dr. Steven Kalkanis, chair of neurosurgery at Henry Ford Health System and medical director of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute in Detroit, told TODAY
Men are more likely than women to develop glioblastoma and there's evidence women respond better to treatment, according to National Cancer Institute
At this time, there is no known way to reduce your risk, the American Cancer Society advises. The most important thing you can do is not to ignore the warning signs
What are the symptoms
They are varied and may depend on where in the brain the tumor is located. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the National Cancer Institute list these warning signs:
- persistent headaches – this is the most common symptom in a previously healthy person
- changes in mood and personality
- changes in mood and personality
- changes in the ability to think and learn
- problems with language, concentration or coordination
What is the treatment
Patients usually undergo surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. But because the cancer resembles the threads of a spider's web rather than a uniform mass, and it's intertwined with delicate brain tissue, it's almost impossible to get rid of it.
"Brain tumors, especially but not the malignant ones … are in such an eloquent area of the body that surgical intervention may not be possible and other interventions such as RT (radiation therapy) may come with a fierce cost, "Dr. Henry S. Friedman, deputy director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center, told NBC News
Optune – a cap-like device that sends a low-dose electrical current through the brain – offers a survival advantage. But more advances are desperately needed in the field, which is behind the curve compared to other cancers, said Dr. Glenn Lesser, and neuro-oncologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Glioblastoma cells often develop resistance to treatment and continue to grow