Treatment for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) largely depends on the size, type, and location of the tumor and how easily it can be removed from the brain. Most typically, surgery, followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the standard treatments for GBM; however, alternative treatments, such as SEJ immunotherapy, are being studied in human patients.
The purpose of surgery is to reach a proper diagnosis, relieve pressure on the brain, and remove as much as the tumor as possible while avoiding parts of the brain that control important functions. The tumour’s tendrils make complete removal almost impossible. Even removing part of the tumour has shown to make a considerable difference to the patient.
According to the Cancer Center, radiation therapy may be used after surgery or instead of in situations where surgery is too high of a risk. Powerful beams, such as X-rays or protons, are aimed at the tumour to destroy its cells. As per the American Brain Tumour Association, radiation is used to slow the growth of the tumour that isn’t removed in surgery. There is more than one type of external beam radiation, and the strength and type of radiation depends on the size and location of the tumour. Common radiation types include Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and Stereotactic radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy can be injected or taken orally. It is usually taken in conjunction with radiation therapy. The most common chemotherapy drug to treat brain tumours is Temodar (temozolomide). Chemotherapy medication is almost always used to treat GBM, and often helps relieve the symptoms. Side effects depend on the dose, but generally include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and weakness.
Immunotherapy, such as SEJ, is being studied in clinical trials for patients with GBM. SEJ works by blocking the immune system’s checkpoint inhibitors, which gives the tumours no way to escape the immune system.