Treatment

Surgery. Unlike localised tumours, whose treatment begins with complete removal, the diffuse nature of gliomatosis cerebri means than surgical removal is not an option. The disease spreads like a cobweb, or a handful of sand scattered in the structures of the brain. Surgery is only used to acquire a biopsy to confirm diagnosis, or to remove blockages in cases where the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid is obstructed (hydrocephalus).

Radiotherapy: Ionizing radiation is administered to the tumour, in order to destroy tumour cells. Radiotherapy cannot cure gliomatosis, but in some cases it can bring about a stabilisation of the disease, slowing its progress. Treatment must cover the large areas infiltrated, meaning that radiation can affect large sections of the brain. This poses the risk of damaging healthy brain tissue, causing inflammation. Due to the large volume of the brain requiring irradiation, it may be advised against in children due to the immaturity of their brains; the younger the child, the less suitable this treatment is.

Chemotherapy: used with the aim of improving the chance of survival, or to avoid radiotherapy in children. Being a malignant glial tumour, drugs combating malignant astrocytomas are used. The most common are temozolomide or procarbazine. Unfortunately, treatment through chemotherapy has not been successful in increasing survival rates.

Corticoids. Used to alleviate the symptoms caused by the spread of the tumour. Their prolonged use causes side effects including a voracious appetite, weight gain, mood swings, stretch marks and facial changes. They are also used in the short term to alleviate the side effects of inflammation caused by radiotherapy.

Clinical trials. Clinical trials have been conducted on high grade gliomas, though none of them is specifically focused on Gliomatosis. Access all trials at: http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/search.