Brain Tumor Program: Glioblastomas

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Glioblastomas are the most common cancerous (malignant) brain tumor in adults. Glioblastomas form in the glial cells, which surround and protect nerves within the brain and spinal cord. They can grow rapidly and attack surrounding normal brain tissue, making them an especially dangerous brain tumor.

Our UC Irvine Health brain tumor team has been at the center of many important discoveries that are improving outcomes for patients with glioblastomas.

Advanced care for glioblastomas

We have the leading experts in brain tumor care in the Orange County area, and we are innovating new techniques to diagnose and treat glioblastomas. Our goal is to develop a treatment plan that offers you the best long-term outcome.

Treatments include:

  • NovoTTF: We are one of few programs on the West Coast offering NovoTTF, a wearable device, similar to a shower cap, which delivers gentle electrical pulses to destroy the tumor. Read about one patient’s experience with NovoTTF: Retired teacher's outlook, novel treatment keeps brain tumor at bay ›
  • Brain tumor vaccine: We have one of the country’s largest brain tumor vaccine programs. This experimental treatment trains the cells in your immune system to fight the tumor. Find out more about immunotherapy (brain tumor vaccine) ›
  • Clinical trials: Through research and clinical trials, we are often the first program in the region offering new treatments. These treatments include novel medications and advanced radiation therapy treatments and technologies. Learn more about research and clinical trials ›
  • Patient support: We offer a broad range of support services, including one on one support from licensed social workers. Our goal is to relieve some of the stress that can go along with brain tumor treatment. Learn more about our patient support services ›

What are glioblastomas?

Glioblastomas are one of many types of gliomas. Gliomas arise from different types of glial cells, which are the most common cells in the brain. Learn more about how glial cells can turn into gliomas ›

Symptoms of a glioblastoma

A glioblastoma puts pressure on the brain. This pressure may be caused by the tumor itself or when fluid-filled channels in the brain (ventricles) become blocked. The symptoms you experience depend on the size of the tumor and which area of the brain is affected.

Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in personality
  • Bursts of abnormal electrical activity in the brain (seizures)
  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty with speech and language
  • Weakness of the arms and legs

Causes of glioblastoma

Brain tumors form when cells grow rapidly and form an abnormal mass. Normal glial cells divide and multiply. Sometimes the process occurs too rapidly and a glioma forms. Researchers have not yet determined why this happens.

Diagnosing glioblastomas

We offer the complete range of diagnostic tests, including imaging scans and biopsies, to help us accurately confirm or rule out a glioblastoma. Read more about diagnosing brain tumors ›

Imaging tests include:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: CT scans use X-rays to produce three-dimensional (3-D) images of the brain. View a video about CT brain scans ›
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI uses a tunnel-shaped machine along with radio waves and strong magnets to produce detailed images of the brain. These images are often crisper and provide more detail than a CT scan. View a video about MRI scans ›
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: During a PET scan, we inject a safe radioactive substance with sugar into the blood. We use special imaging tests see how quickly brain tissue absorbs the sugar, which helps pinpoint the tumor’s location and whether it may spread. View a video about PET scans ›

Glioblastoma treatments

Standard treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, stop tumors from growing but usually do not fully eliminate the tumor. We offer new and experimental treatments that eliminate trace amounts of cancer that remain after standard treatments. These treatments are leading to excellent outcomes for our patients.

Common treatments for glioblastoma include:

  • Surgery: We are one of few programs using special imaging (intra-operative imaging) along with sophisticated technology to target and safely remove as much of the tumor as possible. Learn more about neurosurgery ›
  • Radiation: Radiation therapy uses powerful beams of high-frequency energy to destroy tumor cells. We assure the safety and accuracy of your treatments by using the latest technologies, such as the TrueBeam™ Radiotherapy and Radiosurgery System. Find out more about radiation therapy ›
  • Chemotherapy: This treatment uses medications to destroy brain tumor cells (neuro-oncology). We offer all the latest chemotherapy medications as well as innovative combinations of medications. Learn more about neuro-oncology ›

Contact us

To schedule an appointment, call 714-456-8000 or fill out an online request form. You may also send us an email.

Our 24-hour promise: If you are a new patient, one of our brain tumor physicians will return your call within 24 hours. You can be seen in our offices within 48 hours after insurance approval.