What is Glioblastoma and how to spot the signs as The Wanted’s Tom Parker shares heartbreaking diagnosis

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Family, friends and loyal fans have rallied around the Wanted singer Tom Parker after he shared his devastating brain tumour diagnosis.

Tom revealed his shocking diagnosis to OK!, with a shoot alongside his wife Kelsey and 16 month old daughter Aurelia Rose. The pair are expecting a baby boy next month and are determined to raise awareness about the illness that has shattered their world.

After a series of unexplained seizures, the 32-year-old boyband star discovered he had an inoperable stage four Glioblastoma. Six weeks on, Tom is undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Kings College Hospital in London to try and lengthen his life.

Glioblastoma (also known as Glioblastoma Multiforme) is an aggressive type of cancer found in the brain or spinal cord. It affects two to three out of 100,000 people per year and most often appears in older adults, but it’s not unheard of at Tom’s age.

About a quarter of people discover they have the disease because of sudden seizures, just like Tom. Doctors say it can also cause worsening headaches, nausea and vomiting. As the tumour grows, people may also have blurred vision and loss of appetite, changes in mood and personality, difficulty speaking and a change in thinking and learning.

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Before a diagnosis is given, doctors will perform lots of imaging tests, like a CT or MRI scan. They may remove a sample of tissue for testing (called a biopsy) and sit down with a patient to talk about signs and symptoms and assess vision, hearing, balance, strength and reflexes. Tom spent three days in hospital where doctors told him the heartbreaking news.

Treatment tries to slow progression and reduces signs and symptoms and Tom and Kelsey decided not to know a prognosis. Doctors say life expectancy is between three and 18 months after diagnosis, but people have been known to live for 10 or 15 years.

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Some sufferers can have surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible but because glioblastoma grows into the normal brain tissue, it’s not always possible to remove the whole tumour, or operate at all. After surgery, there are other treatments, like radiation and chemotherapy, to battle the bad cells left behind.

People with late-stage Glioblastoma can have treatments and palliative care to support a person and their family, reduce pain and make comfort the top priority. Tom is trying physiotherapy to help his mobility, and yoga and reiki to calm his mind.

There is hope for the future with alternative treatments and clinical trials trying out new drugs, vaccines and therapies to help find a cure for the devastating disease.

Glioblastoma and the signs – how to spot it:

  • New onset of seizures

  • Persistent headaches

  • Double or blurred vision

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of appetite

  • Changes in mood and personality

  • Changes in ability to think and learn

  • Gradual speech difficulty

If you were affected by this story, visit thebraintumourcharity.org

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