Tom Parker: What is a glioblastoma?

Tom Parker
Tom Parker - (Copyright PA Archive)
15:45pm, Mon 12 Oct 2020
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The Wanted star Tom Parker is having chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a grade 4 glioblastoma.

There are many different types of brain tumour and they can be classed as low or high grade.

Here are questions answered about brain cancer.

– How many people are diagnosed with brain tumours each year?

According to Cancer Research UK (CRUK) there are around 12,100 new brain, other central nervous system (CNS) and intracranial tumour cases in the UK every year – or 33 every day.

– What is the survival and mortality rates?

Survival rates are difficult to predict because brain tumours are not the most common form of cancer and there are many different types.

But according to nhs.uk, around 15 out of every 100 people with a cancerous brain tumour will survive for 10 years or more after being diagnosed.

CRUK figures show that there are around 5,300 brain, other CNS and intracranial tumour deaths in the UK every year.

But brain cancer survival in England is highest for people diagnosed aged under 40 years old.

– What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms include: headaches; seizures; nausea; vomiting; drowsiness; mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality; progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body and vision or speech problems, according to nhs.uk.

– Are there different types?

There are many different types of brain tumour – usually named after the cell they develop from or the part of the brain they start in.

There are 130 different types of brain tumour.

The most common type of brain tumour in adults is called glioblastoma multiforme.

– What is a glioblastoma?

Glioblastomas are a type of glioma – a brain tumour that develops from a group of brain cells called glial cells.

Glioblastomas are grade 4 brain tumours and are sometimes called glioblastoma multiforme, GBM, GBM4 or a grade 4 astrocytoma.

According to the Brain Tumour Charity they are: fast growing, have threadlike tendrils that extend into other parts of the brain, are likely to spread within the brain and may come back.

– What about the grades?

Brain tumours are graded from 1- 4, according to their behaviour, such as the speed at which they grow and how likely they are to spread.

Grades 1 and 2 are classed as “low grade” and grades 3 and 4 are “high grade”.

High grade brain tumours are fast growing and more likely to spread to other parts of the brain. They may come back even if intensively treated.

– What are the treatment options?

Treatments range on a variety of factors including the type of tumour, where it is in the brain, how big it is and how far it has spread, how abnormal the cells are and a patient’s overall health and fitness.

Options can include: surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, medicines to help with symptoms and steroids.

– What have the brain tumour charities said?

Theresa Dauncey, chief executive of The National Brain Appeal, said: “We are so sorry to hear that Tom Parker has glioblastoma brain cancer. We send our best wishes to Tom and his family and are grateful to him for raising awareness of the immunotherapy clinical trial that The National Brain Appeal is funding.

“Patients newly diagnosed with glioblastoma in the UK may be eligible for the trial, called IPI-GLIO, following the current standard treatment, surgery (where possible) plus radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

“We need to raise an additional £45,000 to cover the costs to complete the trial. To date, 81 of the 120 patients have been recruited since opening in January 2019 – this is the biggest number of UK patients ever recruited to a brain cancer clinical trial. It is open in seven centres around the UK.”

Sarah Lindsell, chief executive of The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “Our hearts go out to Tom, his wife Kelsey and young daughter and their family and friends.

“Everyone who has been touched by a brain tumour will know just how hard this must be for them.

“We stand with everyone whose lives have been turned upside by this cruel disease and are committed to finding a cure so that no other family has to hear those devastating words.”

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