What is GBM?  What is the Prognosis?


GBM, also known as a grade four astrocytoma or glioblastoma multiforme, is the worst and most aggressive grade of the astrocytomas. Astrocytomas are brain tumors that arise from astrocytes, the star-shaped cells that support and feed nutrients to the neurons. Astrocytomas come in grades one through four, with one being very slow-growing and four being very the fast-growing and aggressive "GBM". The grades also refer to the degree to which the cells in the tumor exhibit difference from normal astrocytes.

Sad to say, GBM overall has a very poor and short prognosis. It's right up there with pancreatic cancer as being one of those cancers we just don't have the greatest of treatments for yet. But, we have to use the word "overall" because there is a great deal of variability in how individual patients do. In our support group of almost 1500 members, we have heard of those patients who have survived with minimal deficits for over ten years; those who are living with mild to moderate deficits two to five years past diagnosis; and those who succumb to their disease within fourteen to eighteen months. And then there are those whose disease is very rapidly progressive, or who were not candidates for surgery or chemo for some reason, who only survive three to eight months past diagnosis.

All these people get averaged together to get that fourteen month median survival figure you will see quoted wherever you go to look this up. Does it say a lot about how you yourself (or your loved one) will do? Not necessarily.  Any of us will tell you, we are not a statistic, and neither are you!


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