Chemotherapy is one of the main forms of treatment for glioblastoma. In most cases, patients start chemotherapy two to four weeks after surgery, at the same time as or shortly after radiation therapy. On occasion, chemotherapy is used as a primary treatment when a tumor cannot be surgically removed.
Chemotherapy works by destroying rapidly dividing cancer cells with powerful medications. These medications can be swallowed in pill form, injected into a vein or – in certain circumstances – injected into the intrathecal space of the spine.
Treating glioblastoma with chemotherapy requires a significant amount of expertise, as the tumors are often comprised of several different types of cells. Some medications might destroy some of these cells while allowing others to grow unimpeded. As a result, medical oncologists must design carefully tailored treatment plans for patients with glioblastomas.
The most commonly prescribed glioblastoma chemotherapy medications include:
- Temozolomide, the current “gold standard” of care
- Carmustine, another common medication for high-grade brain cancers
- Bevacizumab, typically used as a second-line treatment for recurrent glioblastomas
- Lomustine, which may help improve the efficacy of bevacizumab when both medications are administered at the same time
To determine which medication – or combination of medications – offers the most promise for a patient, the medical oncologists at Moffitt Cancer Center evaluate a number of individualized factors. The extent, cellular composition and location of a tumor are considered, along with a patient’s age, personal preferences and responses to previous treatment.
Not only does Moffitt provide a complete range of traditional glioblastoma chemotherapy drugs, but we also make it possible for patients to access promising new options through our clinical trials. Many of our trials compare novel chemotherapy drugs to the current standard of care, while others explore new dosing strategies, ways to minimize side effects and nontraditional medications such as immunotherapies and vaccines.
Referrals are not required to obtain glioblastoma chemotherapy or participate in a clinical trial at any Moffitt location. To request an appointment, call 1-888-MOFFITT or submit a new patient registration form online.