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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What is a glioblastoma?

A glioblastoma is a type of cancer that can develop in your brain or spinal cord. The cause of a glioblastoma is usually unknown.

What are the signs and symptoms of a glioblastoma?

Signs and symptoms depend on the size of the tumor and where it is located. You may have any of the following:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • A change in vision or loss of vision
  • Changes in personality
  • Problems with speech, memory, hearing, or balance
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the body
  • Seizures

How is a glioblastoma diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and check your brain function. The provider will check how your pupils react to light, your memory, and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested. You may also need any of the following:

  • A CT or MRI will show where the brain tumor is located. You may be given contrast liquid to help the tumor and your brain tissue show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A biopsy may be done to take a sample of the tumor to find the type of cancer you have. You may need surgery to get a biopsy of the tumor.

How is a glioblastoma treated?

Your tumor may be difficult to remove completely. You may need any of the following to decrease symptoms and prevent the tumor from growing:

  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-ray beams to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy medicines are used to kill cancer cells.
  • Surgery may be done to remove as much of the tumor as possible. This may help relieve symptoms such as headaches and seizures.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Rest as needed. Do not plan too many activities for one day. Take short naps when you need them.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods will help your body stay strong during treatment. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, nuts, and cooked beans. Eat small meals more often if you have nausea. You may need to meet with a dietitian to help you plan your meals.
    Healthy Foods
  • Go to physical, occupational, or speech therapy as directed. A physical therapist can help you increase movement, strength, and coordination. An occupational therapist can help you find ways to do your daily activities more easily. A speech therapist can help you improve your speech.
  • Get support. A brain tumor can change the way you act, think, and feel. Your memory, concentration, and ability to learn may decline. You may feel anxious or depressed. Talk with family and friends about these changes and about continuing care and treatments. Talk with your healthcare provider about counseling or therapy. This may help you manage anxiety and depression. Join a support group to speak with others that have gone through treatment.

How do I find support and more information?

  • American Brain Tumor Association
    Phone: 1- 800 - 886
    Web Address:

Have someone call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have a seizure for the first time.
  • Your seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • You have more than 1 seizure before you are fully awake or aware.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have a second seizure that happens within 24 hours of your first.
  • You are injured during a seizure.
  • You are confused.
  • You have sudden changes in your vision.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You feel anxious or depressed.
  • You have a poor appetite.
  • You have trouble swallowing.
  • You continue to have a headache after you take your medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.