Health in Focus: Brain Cancer, Glioblastoma

In the wake of John McCain’s tragic death, a lot of people may be thinking about glioblastoma, the brain cancer that ultimately killed him.

Dr. Jay Jagannathan, a board-certified neurosurgeon with Jagannathan Neurosurgery, breaks down the difficulties in how this type of cancer is treated.

There are two types of brain tumors, benign and malignant.

Malignant means a cancer type that can spread to other areas. Glioblastoma is the most common form of malignant brain tumor, and also the most severe, Jagannathan says.

“In spite of all of the medical advancements we have had over the course of the last 60 years or so, the survival for glioblastoma, or the average survival, has only gone up about four weeks, so it is still largely unknown in terms of how we treat it.”

The brain has extra complications that make it difficult to treat this cancer.

“The brain is protected from the rest of the body because of what is called a blood brain barrier,” Jagannathan says. “And so it makes it more difficult for medication and chemotherapy and that sort of thing to enter the brain. And even if they do, a lot of times these medications can have toxicity, which patients can be very sensitive to.”

Another key factor to why glioblastoma is nearly untreatable is because it’s difficult to reset or remove it safely without causing damage to the rest of the brain.

“A lot times the symptoms are very subtle, so because of the location ion the brain it is not looked into properly until the tumor has grown extremely big,” Jagannathan says.

For more health information, contact Jagannathan Neurosurgery for neurosurgery, neurology and interventional pain management.

Northern Michigan: 989-701-2538

Upper Peninsula: 906-253-1341

Southeast Michigan: 248-792-6527

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