Glioblastoma Multiforme


marijuana for glioblastoma multiforme
If you’ve heard marijuana can treat brain cancer like glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), your first reaction might be disbelief. However, researchers have been studying the tumor-killing properties of two of the plant’s primary cannabinoids — THC and CBD — and the research looks promising. Not only that, but medical marijuana and glioblastoma multiforme can also provide you relief from an array of its symptoms, like headaches, nausea, anxiety and depression.

What Is Glioblastoma Multiforme?

Glioblastoma multiforme, or glioblastoma for short, is an extremely aggressive brain tumor. It’s among the group of tumors known as astrocytomas. Glioblastomas account for around 12 to 15 percent of individuals with brain tumors.

what is glioblastoma multiforme

The tumors start in star-shaped cells called astrocytes that support and nourish your brain’s neurons. GBM can also contain various other types of brain cells, even your dead brain cells.

GBM tumors grow fast inside your brain, with their cells multiplying rapidly. They also have many blood vessels to feed them. While they are a type of brain tumor, GBMs can spread to other areas of your body.

GBMs present special challenges for treatment due to certain characteristics such as:

  • Inherent conventional therapy resistance
  • Localization of brain tumors
  • Limited therapy response
  • Limited brain capacity to repair itself
  • The variable troublesome tumor blood supply that hinders effective drug delivery
  • Movement of malignant cells into adjoining tissue of the brain
  • Tumor capillary leakage, leading to fluid accumulation around the tumor, intracranial hypertension and peritumoral edema
  • The consequential neurotoxicity of glioma-directed treatments

Symptoms of Glioblastoma Multiforme

Since GBDs proliferate so fast, brain pressure typically causes the initial symptoms. Depending on the location of the tumor, it can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Persistent headaches
  • Speech difficulty
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Changes in ability to learn and think
  • Changes in personality or mood
  • Memory loss
  • New onset of seizures

Many conditions other than GBM can cause these symptoms. You’ll need to consult with your doctor to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Causes of Glioblastoma Multiforme

While researchers have identified some risk factors for brain tumors, there’s no known cause for most of the tumors. You can control to some degree certain risk factors, such as radiation exposure, while others — like your family history and age — you can’t.

Radiation exposure is one significant risk factor for brain tumors and glioblastomas. It occurs when doctors use radiation to treat another condition. Many brain tumor patients who require radiation therapy for treating other cancers have a higher risk.

Children with scalp ringworm went through low-dose radiation treatments before doctors knew the risks. Sadly, doctors later found this radiation increased their risk of tumors in the brain as they got older. At that point, it was too late, since the doctors couldn’t undo the effects of the radiation. Many children who had their brains exposed to radiation for treating leukemia ended up with brain tumors around 10 to 15 years later.

Tumors due to radiation are not common, but doctors are now weighing the benefits and risks considerably before they use radiation therapy. Radiation exposure from CT scans or X-rays is a lot smaller than radiotherapy, making the brain tumor risk insignificant.

According to the American Cancer Society, you can’t prevent glioblastomas. And, there aren’t any known environmental or lifestyle-related causes of brain tumors other than radiation exposure. Therefore, currently, there isn’t an established way of protecting against GBMs.

Types of Glioblastoma Multiforme

There are a couple of types of GBMs.

  1. Primary (de novo): The most aggressive form and common type of GBM.
  2. Secondary glioblastoma: This type affects around 10 percent of individuals with GBM. Most of those who develop this type of cancer are 45 years old or younger.

GBMs often grow in the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain. You can also find them in the cerebellum, brain stem, spinal cord and other parts of the brain.

Physical Effects of Glioblastoma Multiforme

Complications of GBMs include:

  • Seizures
  • Raised intracranial pressure and cerebral edema
  • Thromboembolic events — a consequence of immobilization, neurological deficits and steroid treatment, as well as tumor-induced hypercoagulable

Other common complications include:

  • Systemic illness
  • Herniation — transtentorial, tonsillar, axial, subfalcine
  • Neutron-induced cerebral injury
  • Tumor invasion of brainstem
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Coma
  • Surgical complications such as edema and cerebral hemorrhage

Individuals who have primary brain tumors can have a poor quality of life, according to Neuro-Oncology. Symptoms like nausea, anorexia, insomnia, headache and seizures cause them difficulties. They also deal with other problems, like personality changes, motor deficits, visual field defects, cognitive deficits and aphasia.

Even though there are many of these challenges, there aren’t that many well-tested interventions for improving quality of life.

Mental Effects of Glioblastoma Multiforme

Many glioblastoma multiforme patients experience anxiety and depression. A study of 363 adult neuro-oncology patients showed out of those with a glioblastoma multiforme diagnosis, 48 percent had an anxiety disorder, 41 percent had depression and only 5 percent carried a previous psychiatric illness diagnosis.

effects of glioblastoma multiforme

Another study showed depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment increased in patients with brain tumors following surgery. However, quality of life didn’t change.

Glioblastoma Multiforme Statistics

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons:

  • Of all primary brain tumors, GBM accounts for 52 percent.
  • GBM accounts for approximately 17 percent of all metastatic and primary brain tumors overall.
  • GBM tumors often occur in adults who are between 45 and 70 years old.
  • Estimates by the National Cancer Institute show 22,850 people — 12,630 males and 10,280 females — received a brain cancer or other nervous system cancer diagnosis in 2015.
  • Also in 2015, out of these diagnoses, 15,320 resulted in death.
  • Each year, the incidence rate of GBM is two to three per 100,000 adults.

Current Treatments Available for Glioblastoma Multiforme and Their Side Effects

glioblastoma multiforme treatments

Here are the most common treatments for GBM.

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses medications that kill cancer cells. Sometimes, the surgeon will place circular, thin wafers containing chemo drugs in your brain during your surgery. These slowly dissolve and release the medication that kills the cancer cells. Often, patients take the chemotherapy medication Temodar (temozolomide) in pill form both during and after radiation therapy. If your glioblastoma recurs, the doctor may recommend other types of chemo. They’ll administer these types through your vein.
  • Radiation therapy: This treatment uses protons, X-rays or other high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. You’ll lie on a table during radiation therapy while a machine moves around your body and directs beams to exact points in your brain. Doctors typically recommend radiation therapy after surgery, and they may combine it with chemotherapy. Doctors use chemotherapy and radiation therapy as the primary treatment in individuals who can’t undergo surgery.
  • Surgery to remove the tumor: During this surgery, your surgeon will remove as much of the GBM as they can. Because GBM grows into the normal tissue of the brain, it isn’t possible to obliterate it. Because of this, individuals require additional surgery or treatments to target the remaining cells.
  • Targeted drug therapy: These focus on specific cancer cell abnormalities that allow them to thrive and grow. The therapy uses medication that attacks these abnormalities and causes the cancer cells to die.
  • Tumor treating fields (TTF) therapy: TTF disrupts the tumor cells’ capability of multiplying using an electrical field. The doctor applies adhesive pads on your scalp, then connect these pads to a portable device that creates the electrical field. The doctor combines TTF with chemotherapy and might recommend it after radiation therapy.
  • Supportive palliative care: Supportive palliative care is a specific type of medical care that focuses on offering patients relief from their pain and other symptoms of a severe medical condition. Specialists will work with you, your doctors and your family to give additional support that will complement your ongoing care. You may receive supportive palliative care while you’re undergoing other types of treatment, like chemo, radiation therapy or surgery.

Recent Developments in Glioblastoma Multiforme

There are two primary experimental approaches to develop better glioblastoma treatments.

  1. Immunotherapy: A strategy doctors are now using for many types of cancer, immunotherapy manipulates your immune system to boost its ability in recognizing tumor cells, and attacking and killing them. It also targets the tumor cells, particularly the signaling pathways that control the growth of the cells, and those that have gotten out of control because of genetic mutations.
  2. Better imaging: Researchers are also trying to develop better methods to image tumors so surgeons will be able to remove more tumor cells — as many as possible. When surgeons miss cells, they linger, bringing on more tumor growth. The more cancer cells and tumors the surgeons can remove, the better the patient’s outlook.

Researchers have conducted or are performing around 1,284 studies for the treatment of GBM.

How and Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Glioblastoma Multiforme

The CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptor agonist, THC, acts as a broad range inhibitor of cancer in vivo and in culture. Clinical trials are presently testing its effectiveness for treating glioblastoma. Studies suggest other cannabinoids, which don’t efficiently interact with these receptors, can regulate THC’s actions.

THC has a fair safety profile and takes antiproliferative action on tumor cells. THC and other cannabinoids hinder angiogenesis and tumor growth in animal models, according to a study. Because of this, researchers suggest their possible application as antitumoral drugs.

Marijuana could produce some side effects, including:

What Side Effects and Symptoms of Glioblastoma Multiforme Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

Marijuana and glioblastoma multiforme treatment can help with GBM symptoms such as:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Seizures
  • Muscle weakness
  • Speech difficulty

Individuals who palliatively use medical marijuana for glioblastoma multiforme are usually looking to help alleviate their symptoms, including lack of appetite, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, nausea, vomiting, insomnia and anxiety. They often find the treatment to be most effective when they smoke or vape cannabis oil.

Other people use cannabis oil hoping it will kill cancer cells, since there’s evidence cannabinoids — combined with standard treatment — can increase chemotherapy’s effectiveness in mouse models.

Individuals taking THC feel a “high” sensation that could be acceptable for those looking to ease anxiety or insomnia. In contrast, CBD isn’t psychoactive, but also works well at relieving anxiety.

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Symptoms of Glioblastoma Multiforme

glioblastoma multiforme strains

Medical weed has three main strain types:

  1. Indica strains have overall whole-body sedative effects. Individuals prefer Indica strains when they’re looking to relax or need a good night’s sleep. Those with anxiety can benefit from it too. Indicas contain more THC than Sativas, which are rich in CBD.
  2. Sativa strains are more energizing and stimulating than Indicas. People like these strains when they want to feel more energized, physically active and social. Medicinally, Sativas are the better choice for daytime use.
  3. Hybrid strains combine both Indicas and Sativas. Their effects will depend on the traits inherited from the two strains.

Each of these marijuana for glioblastoma multiforme strains can help ease the symptoms of your GBM and improve your quality of life.

Some potentially beneficial strains to try are:

Strains for Nausea

  • Blue Dragon (Indica-dominant)
  • Dream Berry (Indica)
  • Afghan Haze (Sativa-dominant)

Strains for Depression

  • Black Widow (hybrid)
  • Cannalope Haze (Sativa)
  • Blue Viper (hybrid)

Strains for Anxiety

  • Sour Grape (Indica)
  • Blue Goo (Sativa)
  • Confidential Cheese (hybrid)

Strains for Sleep

  • Sugar Cookie (hybrid)
  • Bloss OG (hybrid)
  • Kushadelic (Indica)

Strains for Headaches

  • Purple Urkle (Indica)
  • Lemon Kush (hybrid)
  • Green Crack (Sativa)

Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment for the Side Effects and Symptoms of Glioblastoma Multiforme

Medical cannabis comes in various forms. A popular administration method is CBD oil. Patients often favor CBD oil because it provides them relief, but without the “high” effect, so they can continue with their everyday responsibilities.

CBD oil seems to work great for:

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer

For fast relief, you can vape your CBD oil. With CBD vaping, you heat the oil, breathing in the vapors it produces. Smoking and vaping both deliver the quickest effects, but might not provide you with the best solution if you have any problems with your lungs.

Other methods of delivery include:

  • Smoking
  • Edibles
  • Tinctures
  • Topicals
  • Beverages
  • Juicing
  • Suppositories
  • Dabbing
  • Transdermal patches

Getting Started on Your Marijuana and Glioblastoma Multiforme Therapy

You don’t have to struggle with GBM symptoms like persistent headaches. As medical marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, you’ll find a growing number of dispensaries opening their doors to patients to fulfill their cannabis product needs. Since there are so many places to choose from, it can become a little overwhelming. Therefore, why not get all your cannabis needs fulfilled all under one roof?

doctors and patients

With Marijuana Doctors, you can find a qualified cannabis doctor and a considerable list of dispensaries, as well as information on state laws, products and more. Just click on “Find a Doctor” to begin your medical marijuana and glioblastoma multiforme treatment process.

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