Understanding Glioblastomas

14 September 2023
Vivien Briggs and Simon pictured standing outside The Wesley Hospital

Vivien Briggs is a Neurosurgical Nurse Practitioner who works for Briz Brain and Spine and cares for patients undergoing treatment for brain and spine tumours during all stages of their journey.

Vivien explained glioblastomas are the fastest-growing and most aggressive type of brain tumour.

The early signs and symptoms of glioblastoma can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. 

“Patients may have seizures or they may present with symptoms resulting from the tumours location in the brain like visual disturbances, speech problems, weakness or changes in sensation involving their face, arm or leg,” Vivien said.

“They may also present with personality changes, confusion or memory problems.”

She explained brain cancer is rare in adults, and makes up less than 2 per cent of all cancer diagnosis in adults.

“They occur in men more than women and average age of diagnosis is 62 and glioblastoma is the most common primary malignant brain cancer,” Vivien said.

“The standard treatment for brain cancer is surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy however, with treatment average prognosis is 15 months.”

Vivien supports her patients by helping to coordinate their care on their cancer journey. 

“I provide education and support throughout their treatment, I act as a point of contact for both patients and their families,” Vivien said.

“It is important to understand that it is not just a cancer diagnosis but it also means that patients and their families are living with the effects of a brain injury and this has a major impact on not only the patient’s life but also the whole family.”

Vivien explains it is difficult to treat brain cancer due to the blood bran barrier.

“It is difficult to get chemotherapy into the brain to treat the cancer, more awareness and therefore more funding is needed to support research into better targeted treatments,” Vivien said.

“Next year we are excited to be working on a research project with the Newro Foundation and QIMR involving T cells and immunotherapy on our glioblastoma patients.” 

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