Glioblastoma is not categorized by stages. Brain cancers are “graded” instead of “staged;” grades indicate how the cancer cells appear under a microscope, as well as how likely they are to reproduce.
Like stages, brain cancer grades range from 1 to 4. The higher the grade, the more aggressive the cancer. However, glioblastomas are always classified as grade 4 brain cancer. That’s because this type of cancer is an aggressive form of astrocytoma. Stages are not assigned to glioblastoma tumors because all of these tumors display characteristics consistent with stage 4 brain cancer, including:
- When viewed beneath a microscope, the cancerous cells look highly abnormal and have very few features of healthy cells.
- The cancerous cells reproduce at a rapid rate and often invade nearby parts of the brain.
- The tumors produce their own blood vessels to support the rapid growth, and the lesions may also contain calcium deposits and cystic material.
Because glioblastomas grow aggressively and have often invaded nearby tissues at the time of diagnosis, it’s important for patients to seek treatment from a highly skilled team of oncologists who have experience treating the most advanced stages of glioblastoma. Moffitt Cancer Center’s Neuro-Oncology Program makes it possible for patients to consult with neurosurgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and supportive care providers, all of whom specialize in the management of complex, high-grade brain cancers. At Moffitt, we emphasize precision medicine, offering a combination of advanced therapies selected specifically for each patient. This not only reflects our dedication to producing the best possible outcomes, but also our close attention to each patient’s quality of life.