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Gliosarcoma is a type of rare brain cancer which usually presents itself in the temporal lobe. Like most cancers, it is characterized by the accumulation of mutated or diseased cells which cluster together and form a mass or tumor. Of all brain cancers, gliosarcoma is one of the most dreaded because it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body when compared to similar types of cancer.
Men are more likely to contract this type of cancer than women, with most sufferers being about 50 years of age when diagnosed. Many patients go undiagnosed until the tumor has progressed, although there are symptoms one can look out for. Indicators that a brain tumor may be present include headaches, seizures, vision problems, or personality changes. Sudden changes in mood may also be an indication of a tumor if no history of a mood disorder has been noted. Symptoms may start out mild and slowly progress.
Treatment options for gliosarcoma may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. If the tumor is present somewhere on the brain which is safe for surgery, the mass will likely be removed. After that, chemotherapy is often the first plan of action. Chemotherapy uses various medications and chemicals to kill cancer cells. There are many side effects to chemo treatments, and can include nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
There is some research to indicate the disease is caused by exposure to radiation. For this reason, it is advised that radiation exposure be limited to the lowest levels possible. This includes having X-rays and other procedures performed. Those who work in professions which require radiation exposure should wear protective gear at all times.
The overall outlook for those diagnosed with gliosarcoma is not good. Although all brain tumors are potentially fatal, gliosarcoma has a very high instance of spreading to other parts of the body. It generally moves through the blood and can infect the lymph nodes, blood, liver, and other vital organs. Once metastasis occurs, the cancer is generally very hard to treat and it is often less responsive to medications. Any symptoms of a brain tumor should be reported to a health care provider immediately for this reason.
Other factors which may affect the survival rate of those 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 drugs which may help to shrink the mass, but their effectiveness varies from patient to patient.