What You Need to Know About Glioblastoma

A closer look at the late Senator John McCain’s illness.

What You Need to Know About Glioblastoma

War hero, naval aviator, presidential contender, and Senator John McCain lost his battle to cancer at the age of 81 this past Saturday. McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and incurable form of cancer last year. According to the latest research, “Worldwide, there are an estimated 240,000 cases of brain and nervous system tumors per year – and glioblastoma is the most lethal of these tumors.” Glioblastoma also claimed the lives of Senator Ted Kennedy and Beau Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son. This type of cancer has no identifiable cause; however, it is mostly diagnosed in men 60 years of age and older. The treatment depends on the tumor location and the ability of the patient to tolerate surgery, making it particularly difficult to treat.

Glioblastoma is a tumor that develops in the connective tissues of the brain and unlike many other types of cancer, it does not spread and rather invades the surrounding tissues of the brain. The symptoms can include headaches, nausea, difficulty with speech or vision, weakness and even seizures. An ABC News article states, “There is no single prognosis for this cancer; individual cases differ dramatically and approaches to treatment are highly personalized.”  Dependent on the case, neurosurgeons attempt to remove as much cancer as possible through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The doctors also prescribe a specific form of therapy to each patient based on their tolerance to undergo such treatments.


Research for glioblastoma treatment is still in the beginning stages and raising awareness is helpful in promoting progressive studies. As Dr. Oz stated on Facebook, "I respect the courage of John McCain and his family in pursuing dignity in death. He is one of my heroes who sacrificed so much for so many. Our nation misses his character and courage already."

Find more of the latest health news here.

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