Glioblastoma Multiforme

What are glioblastoma multiformes?

Glioblastoma multiformes (GBMs) are high-grade gliomas that arise from the brain’s supportive tissue, known as glial cells. These are aggressive tumors that rapidly infiltrate adjacent healthy brain tissue and, as a result, are difficult to treat.

The majority of GBMs occur in the cerebral hemispheres, which control higher functions like speech, movement, thought and sensation. They can also develop in the part of the brain that identifies sensations such as temperature, pain and touch and the region of the brain that controls balance and motor function.

These tumors are usually diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 9, and occur in boys and girls equally. GBMs occur with increased frequency in children with certain genetic syndromes, including neurofibromatosis 1, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer and tuberous sclerosis. Most GBMs, however, have no known cause.

How we care for GBMs

Children with GBMs are treated Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through our Glioma Program, one of the world's largest treatment programs focused on this kind of cancer. Our glioma specialists have extensive expertise in treating all types of gliomas, including GBMs. Our patients receive multidisciplinary care from neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons, neurologists, and pediatric subspecialists.

Our areas of research for GBMs

Clinical trials, or research studies evaluating new treatment approaches, are a major offering at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Clinical trials are very important for children with hard-to-treat or relapsed conditions.

Clinical Trials for GBMs

For many children with brain tumors or other rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options. It’s possible that your child will be eligible to participate in one of our brain tumor clinical trials. In addition to launching our own clinical trials, we also offer trials available through collaborative groups such as the Children's Oncology Group (COG), the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC). If your child has progressive or recurrent tumor, she may be eligible for a number of experimental therapies available through these groups, or from one of our independent clinical investigators.

Clinical and basic scientists at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s are conducting numerous research studies to help clinicians better understand and treat malignant gliomas. Through the consortia of researchers to which we belong, a number of novel therapies are available for children with both newly diagnosed and current brain tumors. Participation in any clinical trial is completely voluntary. We will take care to fully explain all elements of the treatment plan prior to the start of the trial, and you may remove your child from the medical study at any time.