Team-Based Approach Helps People With This Deadly Brain Tumor
Despite advances in understanding the molecular causes and effects of glioblastoma, or GBM, it remains the most common, treatment-resistant and deadly type of brain cancer.
GBM Awareness Day falls on July 21 – a day when researchers, patients and caregivers shine a light on this devastating disease to help improve education and remember those affected.
“Despite all the advances in surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, the outcomes for patients with glioblastoma remain dismal,” said medical oncologist Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, MBA, internationally renowned clinical researcher at Miami Cancer Institute, specializing in the treatment of the brain. brain tumors and metastases. “What this means is that we have a lot of work to do to help our patients live longer – and with a better quality of life.”
(Watch the video: Listen to medical oncologist Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, MBA, an internationally renowned clinical researcher from the Miami Cancer Institute. Video by Dylan Kyle.)
Glioblastoma is a malignant brain tumor that develops from a specific type of brain cell called an astrocyte. GBMs are often very aggressive and spread to surrounding brain tissue. Signs and symptoms, such as headache, nausea, vomiting, and / or drowsiness, may appear when the tumor begins to put too much pressure on the brain. GBMs can create other symptoms as well, depending on the size and location of the tumor.
Glioblastoma is usually diagnosed after a physical exam that focuses on symptoms and imaging studies, such as computed tomography (CT) and / or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In most cases, the precise underlying cause of glioblastoma is unknown. In rare cases, they can occur in people with certain genetic syndromes.
There is no cure for glioblastoma. Treatment includes surgery, radiation therapy, and medical therapy which includes chemotherapy. The best surgical approach for each person depends on several factors, such as the size and location of the tumor; and the performance status and overall health of the affected person. The Miami Cancer Institute places great importance on treating these patients in clinical trials, as recommended by the NCCN guidelines.
Immunotherapy is an advanced cancer treatment that helps boost your body’s immune system to fight cancer. The Miami Cancer Institute offers different types of immune therapies that help a patient’s immune system identify and attack cancer cells. Treatment can use your own cells or donor cells, as well as antibodies or vaccines.
“Immunotherapy-based approaches involve several categories,” says Dr Ahluwalia. “One of them can be vaccine-based approaches, where we give patients vaccines that attack those particular peptides (chain of amino acids) that are expressed by the tumor. Thus, we can strengthen the immune system to attack the tumor.
“Another involves genetically modified viruses where we operate on these patients. At the time of surgery, we put injections of these genetically modified viruses into the resection cavity, which can then selectively invade cancer cells. Then another category of immunotherapies involves drugs that stimulate the immune system to go and kill the cancer. Additionally, we can use adoptive cell therapy, also known as cell immunotherapy, which is a form of treatment that uses cells in our immune system to kill cancer.
The main recommendation for patients with glioblastoma is to seek treatment through clinical trials (preferred option) or standard care, said Dr Ahluwalia.
“At the Miami Cancer Institute, we believe in a team approach in the management of our patients with glioblastoma, like any complex cancer,” says Dr. Ahluwalia. “Thus, a team of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, as well as a neuro-oncologist and a medical oncologist, who only treat patients with brain tumors on a daily basis, is working together to take care of these patients. We have a tumor committee where we discuss the care and treatment plans for each patient. “
Each year, approximately 13,000 people will be diagnosed with glioblastoma in the United States.
“Most patients survive 15 to 18 months,” said Dr. Ahluwalia. “Therefore, when someone is diagnosed with glioblastoma, we always recommend that patients seek treatment at a center of excellence such as the Miami Cancer Institute. Here, we work as a team with professionals with particular training and expertise in the treatment of patients with brain tumors. We also like to use clinical trials as a way to provide the best care for our patients at the Institute for Glioblastoma and Other Brain Tumors. “