Current chemotherapy for glioblastoma

Cancer J. May-Jun 2003;9(3):149-56. doi: 10.1097/00130404-200305000-00003.


Introduction: Glioblastoma multiforme continues to be associated with a dismal prognosis, despite aggressive therapy. What limited therapeutic impact that has been made has come via multimodality treatment in which chemotherapy plays an important role. In this manuscript, we review current chemotherapy options for glioblastomas.

Methods: The current literature concerning glioblastoma multiforme chemotherapy was reviewed. In addition to a review of landmark references, a MEDLINE search of the literature published from January 2000 to November 2002 was performed using the key words "chemotherapy AND malignant glioma" and limiting responses to clinical trials.

Results: Several cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents that are efficacious in treating glioblastoma are in common clinical use. These can be classified as first-line or second-line agents, depending on their efficacy. In addition, cytostatic chemotherapy agents are beginning to play a role in glioblastoma treatment. Finally, new methods to deliver high chemotherapy doses to brain tumors hold promise for future therapies.

Conclusions: Despite the overall poor prognosis of patients with glioblastoma multiforme, multimodality treatment and chemotherapy in particular improve outcome, and chemotherapeutic options are beginning to have an increased impact. Strategies currently in clinical trials may improve this impact more in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Camptothecin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Camptothecin / therapeutic use
  • Carboplatin / therapeutic use
  • Carmustine / therapeutic use
  • Celecoxib
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Dacarbazine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Dacarbazine / therapeutic use
  • Etoposide / therapeutic use
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intralesional
  • Injections, Intralesional
  • Irinotecan
  • Lomustine / therapeutic use
  • Procarbazine / therapeutic use
  • Pyrazoles
  • Sulfonamides / therapeutic use
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use
  • Temozolomide
  • Thalidomide / therapeutic use
  • Tretinoin / therapeutic use
  • Vincristine / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Pyrazoles
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tamoxifen
  • Procarbazine
  • Thalidomide
  • Tretinoin
  • Vincristine
  • Etoposide
  • Irinotecan
  • Lomustine
  • Dacarbazine
  • Carboplatin
  • Celecoxib
  • Carmustine
  • Camptothecin
  • Temozolomide

Supplementary concepts

  • PCV protocol