Rare, Aggressive Brain Tumor

Glioblastoma is a malignant tumor that forms in your brain, brain stem, cerebellum or spinal cord from cells called astrocytes. These cells nourish and support nerve cells and help repair your brain if it’s injured. Glioblastoma destroys brain cells and causes additional damage by producing inflammation that increases the pressure inside your skull.

The cause of glioblastoma is unknown. Exposure to radiation or a head injury may increase the risk of developing this type of brain tumor.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

The symptoms of glioblastoma vary according to the tumor’s size and location. They may develop rapidly because of the tumor itself or from increased pressure caused by brain swelling.

Common symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Personality changes
  • Seizures
  • Severe headaches that worsen in the morning
  • Vision changes
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness on one side of your body

The tests used to diagnosis glioblastoma may include:

  • Brain tissue biopsy
  • Imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans
  • Neurological evaluation to assess hearing, vision, balance, coordination, reflexes and strength

Although there is no cure, advanced treatment options have helped improve both the quality of life and life expectancy following diagnosis.

Experts in Care

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Our Brain Tumor Clinic features unmatched clinical expertise and the most advanced treatment options available in the region for glioblastoma. When possible, we focus on minimally invasive techniques for less pain, faster recovery and reduced hospital stay.

Treatments include:

  • Awake brain surgery: performed while you are awake, but sedated, to remove tumors that would otherwise be unremovable
  • Endoscopic endonasal surgery: allows your surgeon to access your brain through your nose to operate on the front portion of your brain and top of your spinal cord
  • Fluorescence-guided surgery: uses a fluorescent substance and special microscope to better view and remove your tumor
  • Gamma knife radiosurgery: uses precise radiation to remove abnormal cells that cannot be reached with more traditional surgery
  • Laser ablation: uses light and heat to destroy abnormal cells

Leading-Edge Clinical Research

The experts at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Neuroscience Institute provide world-class care that includes innovative therapies to diagnose and treat brain tumors.

Our multidisciplinary clinical research team’s dedicated nurses, clinical coordinators and data analysts work together to provide leading-edge clinical trials to patients with brain tumors. These trials often include the use of new treatments that hold promise for the care of difficult-to-treat tumors.

We are currently conducting clinical trials for:

  • Metastatic breast cancer with brain metastases
  • Neoplastic meningitis
  • Newly diagnosed glioblastoma
  • Recurrent glioblastoma

To learn more about current clinical trials, visit the Penn State Health StudyFinder.

Comprehensive Care from Skilled Clinicians

For four consecutive years, we’ve been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a high-performing specialty. Our medical team is consistently recognized nationally through Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors awards. Our specialists also participate in worldwide conferences and speaking engagements in countries including India, Korea, Germany, Japan and others.

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

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Convenient Locations

Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.

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