Glioblastoma Multiforme Medication

Updated: Jun 14, 2017
  • Author: Jeffrey N Bruce, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert H Engelhard, III, MD, PhD, FACS  more...
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Medication

Medication Summary

No specific medications exist to treat glioblastomas. However, certain conditions require medical treatment. For seizures, the patient usually is started on levetiracetam (Keppra), phenytoin (Dilantin), or carbamazepine (Tegretol). Levetiracetam is often used because it lacks the effects on the P450 system seen with phenytoin and carbamazepine, which can interfere with antineoplastic therapy. Vasogenic cerebral edema is typically managed with corticosteroids (eg, dexamethasone), usually in combination with some form of antiulcer agent (eg, famotidine, ranitidine). The American Academy of Neurology's practice parameters state that prophylactic antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) should not be administered routinely to patients with newly diagnosed brain tumors (standard) and should be discontinued in the first postoperative week in patients who have not experienced a seizure. [109]

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Antineoplastic agents

Class Summary

Although the optimal chemotherapeutic regimen for glioblastoma is not yet defined, several studies have suggested significant survival benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy.

Temozolomide (Temodar)

Oral alkylating agent converted to MTIC at physiologic pH; 100% bioavailable; approximately 35% crosses the blood-brain barrier. Indicated for glioblastoma multiforme combined with radiotherapy. Significant overall survival improvement was demonstrated in patients treated with temozolomide and radiation compared with radiotherapy alone.

Carmustine (BiCNU)

Alkylates and cross-links DNA strands, inhibiting cell proliferation.

Cisplatin (Platinol)

Inhibits DNA synthesis and, thus, cell proliferation by causing DNA crosslinks and denaturation of double helix.

Erlotinib (Tarceva)

Pharmacologically classified as a human epidermal growth factor receptor type 1/epidermal growth factor receptor (HER1/EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor. EGFR is expressed on the cell surface of normal cells and cancer cells. Indicated for locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer after failure of at least one prior chemotherapy regimen.

Gefitinib (Iressa)

An anilinoquinazoline. Indicated as monotherapy to treat locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer after failure of both platinum-based and docetaxel chemotherapies. The mechanism is not fully understood. Inhibits tyrosine kinases intracellular phosphorylation associated with transmembrane cell surface receptors.

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Anticonvulsants

Class Summary

These agents are used to treat and prevent seizures.

Levetiracetam (Keppra)

Used as adjunct therapy for partial seizures and myoclonic seizures. Also indicated for primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Mechanism of action is unknown.

Phenytoin (Dilantin)

Acts to block sodium channels and prevent repetitive firing of action potentials. As such, it is a very effective anticonvulsant. First-line agent in patients with partial and generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

Carbamazepine (Tegretol)

Like phenytoin, acts by interacting with sodium channels and blocking repetitive neuronal firing. First-line agent in patients with partial and tonic-clonic seizures. Serum levels should be checked and should be approximately 4-8 mcg/mL.

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Corticosteroids

Class Summary

These agents reduce edema around the tumor, frequently leading to symptomatic and objective improvement.

Dexamethasone (Decadron)

Postulated mechanisms of action in brain tumors include reduction in vascular permeability, cytotoxic effects on tumors, inhibition of tumor formation, and decreased CSF production.

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