Glioblastoma symptoms often appear suddenly and become more severe with time. Although many other cancers do not produce symptoms until the tumors are quite large, glioblastomas can start causing discomfort very quickly. It’s rare for a patient to be diagnosed with glioblastoma without having reported at least one symptom to a physician.
Glioblastoma symptoms tend to vary based on the region of the brain in which the cancer originates. This cancer can develop in virtually any part of the brain or (rarely) the spinal cord; as it grows, it can place an increasing amount of pressure on the surrounding structures. For many patients, this elevated intracranial pressure initially causes headaches, drowsiness and nausea. Other glioblastoma symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty seeing or speaking
- Weakness on one side of the body (hemiparesis)
- Temperament changes (e.g., depression or aggression)
- Other neurological deficits (e.g., a gradual loss of fine motor skills)
If any of these symptoms develop, a physician may order a combination of imaging scans and laboratory tests to pinpoint the underlying cause. Although most of these warning signs can also be brought about by noncancerous conditions, it’s still important to begin the diagnostic process as soon as possible. Glioblastoma spreads quickly; the sooner it is detected, the more treatment options a patient is likely to have.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, all of our diagnostic and treatment services are available in the same convenient location. This provides our patients with a streamlined experience, allowing them to access a full scope of diagnostic and therapeutic options without having to coordinate multiple appointments at various clinics. Additionally, referrals are not required to meet with our medical and surgical neuro-oncologists to discuss glioblastoma symptoms or other related concerns.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, Program Leader, Department of Neuro-Oncology.