Video: Life of a Brain Tumour at Brain Health Day 2023

by | May 25, 2023 | Brain Health Day | 0 comments

Mr Saam Youshani, a neurosurgeon at Salford Royal Hospital, discussed the research happening right here in Manchester in the fight against brain tumours. 

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Learn more about Brain Health Day and the Stroke-IMPaCT project.

Talk Summary

What is a Glioblastoma?

  • A glioblastoma (GBM) is a type of brain tumour that occurs when supporting cells in the brain, known as glia, begin to grow and divide abnormally.
  • It is the most common type of primary brain tumour, meaning the tumour first starts to form within the brain.
  • It is classified as a high grade IV tumour as it can grow and spread very rapidly.
  • Symptoms can vary, depending on the location of the tumour, these can include problems with speech, vision, movement and seizures but others may be more common, such as vomiting, headaches and loss of appetite.
  • Whilst the cause of GBM is unknown, it is not an inherited disorder, meaning it cannot be passed down through generations.


What does the GBM journey look like for a patient?


  • Initially, a patient presenting to A&E suffering from headaches and vomiting will undergo both an MRI and CT scan.
  • If a brain tumour is suspected, the case is referred to the neurosurgery team, followed by a specialised multi-disciplinary team, comprising of neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, neuro-pathologists and neuro-radiologists.
  • Several diagnostic tests, ranging from MRI analysis to microscopic examination of the brain tissue, will be carried out to confirm diagnosis, before a unique management plan, specific to the patient, is created.


  • The patient will then undergo craniotomy surgery, where part of the skull is removed in order to safely remove as much of the tumour, without compromising normal brain function.
  • This can be done with the patient asleep (general anaesthetic) or awake (local anaesthetic).
  • During the procedure, surgeons will use an MRI scan to precisely guide them to the location of the tumour.

Oncology treatment

  • Although surgery removes most of the solid tumour tissue, there will still be some remaining tumour cells with the ability to multiply.
  • Therefore, the patient must begin anti-cancer treatment with either radiotherapy or chemotherapy for up to 6 weeks.
  • However, a GBM tumour is made up of many different cells, some of which may be resistant to treatment. This explains why despite a rigorous management plan, the disorder remains incurable, with only 5% of patients surviving 5 years.


How is ongoing work in Manchester addressing this issue?

  • Here in Manchester, the time it takes for a patient first presenting to A&E to receive post-surgical care is within 3 weeks.
  • This is one of the reasons why Manchester’s brain tumour centre has achieved status as a Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence, a prestigious award which recognises neuro-oncology centres for their commitment to delivering excellent patient care and treatment.
  • Much research is also ongoing to develop our understanding of brain tumours, in the hopes of further improving patient treatment.
  • For example, an ongoing clinical study in Manchester, led by Dr Gerben Borst, is investigating the use of radiotherapy before surgical removal of the tumour, rather than after surgery. Although this work is still within its early stages, it could provide a promising way to improve patient outcomes.