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What are the chances of recovering from glioblastoma?

Wednesday, 11 January 2006
Answered by: Dr. S.K. Pandya
Neurosurgeon,
Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre,
Mumbai
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Q. Last year my brother had a very bad headache. After several tests and scanning, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain tumour grade 4. He has been operated in AIIMS, but the doctor said that the main tumour is still there. They have taken out just 50% of the tumour, which had spread to his brain. Four weeks after the operation, he started walking a little bit. He could eat slowly with his right hand but unfortunately became paralysed again. He couldn't even move his legs and arms. What is the reason for this? He finished his radiotherapy and still has to undergo 3 more chemotherapies. Does he need some physical training? What are his chances of recovering from this terrible disaster?

A.  Glioblastoma is a malignant tumour arising from the supporting cells of the brain. I am sorry to inform you that it is a nasty tumour with a generally poor outcome in terms of long-term survival. Exceptionally, a glioblastoma may respond to radiotherapy/chemotherapy. This is the reason why these forms of treatment are employed. He does need physical training to help him reduce the handicap imposed by the damage done to the brain by the tumour. You are already doing everything possible to help your patient. He is being treated at one of the best hospitals in the country by doctors who have massive experience in this field. Your doctors will watch his further progress and the effects of therapy on the tumour. If, despite all measures, the tumour continues to grow, spread to other parts of the brain and cause severe increase in pressure within the head, the outlook is grim. I am sorry I cannot be optimistic as the nature of the tumour is bad.

A.  Glioblastoma is a malignant tumour arising from the supporting cells of the brain. I am sorry to inform you that it is a nasty tumour with a generally poor outcome in terms of long-term survival. Exceptionally, a glioblastoma may respond to radiotherapy/chemotherapy. This is the reason why these forms of treatment are employed. He does need physical training to help him reduce the handicap imposed by the damage done to the brain by the tumour. You are already doing everything possible to help your patient. He is being treated at one of the best hospitals in the country by doctors who have massive experience in this field. Your doctors will watch his further progress and the effects of therapy on the tumour. If, despite all measures, the tumour continues to grow, spread to other parts of the brain and cause severe increase in pressure within the head, the outlook is grim. I am sorry I cannot be optimistic as the nature of the tumour is bad.

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