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Glioblastoma and Hospice Care

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Increasingly, people are choosing hospice care at the end of life. Hospice can be provided in any setting—home, nursing home, assisted living facility, or inpatient hospital. At some point, certain conditions or serious illnesses such as Glioblastoma, may not be possible to cure. Hospice is designed for this situation.

So what is Glioblastoma, and how does hospice care provide comprehensive comfort care as well as support for the family?

What is Glioblastoma?

Also known as glioblastoma multiforme, GBM is a common, fast-acting, cancerous tumor that occurs in the brain or spinal cord. GBMs tend to occur between ages 45 and 70, but can happen at other ages, too.

Evolving treatment can help people live longer by controlling tumor growth.

How Often Is Glioblastoma Seen in Hospice Patients?

GBMs have a predictable decline, unlike illnesses such as breast cancer, where the onset, progression, and symptom burden can vary from person to person. Because many GBM patients are in advanced stages with significant symptom burden when they enter hospice care, a significant proportion choose to receive their care in an inpatient hospice setting rather than the home.

What Effect Does Glioblastoma Have on the Body?

The symptoms related to GBM depend on how big the tumor is and where it’s located. For example, tumors that grow in the brain that controls the left side of the body can result in left side paralysis. There can also be verbal and vision changes.

Another group of symptoms is related to mood swings, including high rates of anxiety and depression. Sometimes these mood swings come from confronting the disease and high mortality rate, but it can also be triggered by the loss of function (speech, sight, etc.) that comes with it.

Seizures are also a big risk, and patients will usually be on medications to control and/or lessen these symptoms. Headaches, nausea, and fatigue are also common symptoms.

What Are the Treatment Options?

Surgery is one treatment option, where doctors will try to remove or debulk the tumor if it’s operable. Chemotherapy can also be used to shrink tumors as well as whole brain radiation. Newer agents, such as immunomodulating agents, can slow growth, as well.

All treatments are going to impact the quality of life, so patients are asked what their bottom line is for quality of life. What are the non-negotiables for you to live comfortably? With advance care planning conversations, you can’t outline every hypothetical situation, but you can determine what the bigger picture for quality of life is. This can help direct care options going forward in the best ways.

How Can Piedmont Care Help?

Piedmont Care provides medical care to patients living with an advanced illness. The focus is on providing relief from the stress and symptoms of a serious illness while also tending to a patient’s and family members’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

No matter where you call home, Piedmont Care will help with the management of pain and other advanced illness symptoms.

To request a consultation, ask your doctor about arranging a consultation with Piedmont Care or call us at 833-888-0265 or 434-423-0700 and we will follow up with your doctor.

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