What is gliosarcoma?

Gliosarcoma is a rare type of brain cancer that usually occurs in the temporal lobe. Like most cancers, it is characterized by the accumulation of mutated or diseased cells that group together and form a mass or tumor. Of all brain cancers, gliosarcoma is one of the most feared because it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body compared to similar types of cancer.

Men are more likely to get gliosarcoma than women, and most patients are in their 50s when diagnosed. Many patients are not diagnosed until the tumor is in a more advanced stage, although there are symptoms that can be taken into account. Indicators that a brain tumor may be present include headaches, seizures, vision problems, or personality changes. Sudden changes in mood can also be an indication of a tumor if no history of a mood disorder has been noted. Symptoms can start mild and progress slowly.

Treatment options for gliosarcoma may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. If the tumor is present somewhere in the brain that is safe for surgery, the mass will likely be removed. After that, chemotherapy is often the first course of action. Chemotherapy uses various drugs and chemicals to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy treatments have many side effects, and can include nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

There is some research indicating that gliosarcoma is caused by radiation exposure. For this reason, it is recommended that radiation exposure be limited to the lowest levels possible. This includes having x-rays and other procedures. Those who work in professions that require radiation exposure must wear protective equipment at all times.

The general prognosis for those diagnosed with gliosarcoma is not good. Although all brain tumors are potentially fatal, gliosarcoma has a very high incidence of spread to other parts of the body. It usually moves through the blood and can infect the lymph nodes, blood, liver, and other vital organs. Once metastasis occurs, the cancer is usually very difficult to treat and is often less responsive to medications. Any symptoms of a brain tumor should be reported to a health care provider right away for this reason.

Other factors that can affect the survival rate of people affected by brain cancer include the size of the tumor and the location of the tumor. Sometimes the mass will be in an area of ​​the brain that is too dangerous to operate on. In these cases, the tumor is considered inoperable and treatment may not be helpful. There are medications that can help reduce the mass, but their effectiveness varies from patient to patient.

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