Treatment usually begins with brain surgery. A craniotomy is performed to take a biopsy of the tumor, and/or to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Stereotactic radiosurgical methods are also utilized, such as Gamma knife, Cyberknife and Novalis Shaped Beam Surgery. (See UCLA’s Neurosurgery Page for more info.) Removing/debulking the tumor relieves pressure in the brain and can help improve symptoms associated with the tumor. (For instance, after my Dad’s surgery he was able to regain some mobility on his left side.)
After the body has recovered from surgery, radiation therapy is recommended, as it is the most effective treatment for GBMs. Radiation works by destroying the rapidly dividing tumor cells with high-energy radiation, thus shrinking the tumor. Oral chemotherapy (generally temozolomide/Temodar) is often utilized in conjunction with radiation, as studies have shown that this combination improves survival rates compared to radiation alone.
Brain Surgery Resources
- Radiation Therapy for Brain Tumors [YouTube video]
- Radiation Therapy for Cancer
- UCLA’s Radiation Therapy for Brain Tumors [PDF]