Senator John McCain’s death may not have been a huge shock to many. It was known he had a brain tumor. This cancer, glioblastoma, isn’t common, but it’s something families should know more about. The earlier it’s caught, the better the treatment options.

What is Glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma multiforme is an aggressive brain cancer. It’s not a common one. Less than one percent of men and women in the U.S. are diagnosed with it during their life. It is a deadly cancer with just over 33 percent of those diagnosed with it surviving past the five-year mark.

Diagnosed at an earlier age, usually by the mid-40s, the survival rate is far better than if it is found after the age of 45. For those who are past the age of 55, the survival rate drops to 5 percent. The tumor is aggressive and usually requires several approaches for treatment.

Symptoms of a glioblastoma include headache, nausea/vomiting, and seizures. A glioblastoma may cause confusion, memory loss, incontinence, problems with eyesight, and difficulty speaking. People who have had been exposed to ionizing radiation, such as that used in atomic bombs, seem to have a greater risk. The same is true for people who had a family member with glioblastoma.

An MRI is used to find the brain tumor. Once it is discovered, the surgeon may decide to perform brain surgery to remove the tumor or do a biopsy to learn more about the tumor. The actual method will depend on where the tumor is and how large it is.

Glioblastomas grow into brain tissue, so it’s possible some of the tumor has to be left behind. If that’s the case, chemo and radiation are used to kill the remaining cancerous cells. There are other treatment options. In one, electrical pulses are sent into the brain to prevent the cancerous cells from multiplying. Finally, there are drugs that interrupt the messages the cancerous cells send to each other, which causes them to die.

A Brain Cancer Diagnosis Must Have You Thinking About Elder Care Services

After a diagnosis of glioblastoma, your mom or dad would need help around the home. Caregivers can offer that help. Elder care services offered by caregivers include help with personal care. Caregivers can do the laundry, change sheets, and drive your parent to medical appointments.

Caregivers reduce some of the strain of managing a household while undergoing chemo or radiation. They are also wonderful companions. Call an elder care agency to learn more.


If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Eden Prairie, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.