What Factors Affect Brain Cancer Life Expectancy?

The type, size, and location of a brain tumor will affect brain cancer life expectancy.
Article Details
  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 12 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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The life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with brain cancer varies greatly and depends on several factors. The age and general health of the patient is usually one of the most influential factors, because being young and generally healthy can help the body fight off the effects of brain cancer. The location, type and stage of the cancer also play a part in determining brain cancer life expectancy. Finally, life expectancy can change depending on whether the patient chooses to go through treatment, because chemotherapy and radiation tend to allow patients to live longer.

Patients who are young and in good general health tend to have a longer brain cancer life expectancy than older, sickly patients. Those under age 40 usually have the longest life expectancy and also respond the best to treatment. It should be noted that good health often matters both before and after the cancer is diagnosed, because patients who experience seizures after a diagnosis of brain cancer typically have a shorter life expectancy than those who do not.

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One of the major factors of brain cancer life expectancy is the type of cancer, because some are more aggressive than others. For example, anaplastic tumors are considered high-grade, or aggressive, resulting in a lower survival rate than low-grade tumors. The brain cancer location also matters, because a tumor on the brain stem is much harder to remove than one elsewhere in the brain. The stage, or severity, of the brain cancer also plays a part in life expectancy. For instance, Stages 1 and 2 describe cancer that is growing slowly but has not spread far, while Stages 3 and 4 indicate the cancerous cells are on their way to other areas of the body.

Another factor of brain cancer life expectancy is whether the patient chooses to undergo treatment. In some cases, surgical removal of the tumor can eliminate the cancer altogether, though this is usually only possible in the first stage or two of cancer. This treatment can lead to cancer survival, provided the cancer does not return later. On the other hand, late-stage brain cancer usually cannot be cured with surgical removal of the cells, because the cancer has spread too far, but certain treatments can at least increase life expectancy. Chemotherapy and radiation are two of the most common treatments that can add months or even years to a patient's life.

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Rotergirl
Post 1

The problem with chemotherapy and brain cancer is that the chemo medications have a problem getting through the blood-brain barrier.

A friend's mother had a glioblastoma and that was the problem with that cancer. It can usually be treated very successfully with surgery and radiation, but chemo is ineffective, and the radiation and surgery don't usually cure it. A person may remain cancer free for some time, but the tumor almost always comes roaring back, and very aggressively. The radiation and surgery are just buying time.

The lady I'm speaking about was cancer free for about a year. Then she died in about six months, so her total survival was about 18 months after diagnosis. Her oncologist said that chemo had been shown to be very effective in treating those tumors, and research was ongoing to find a way for the meds to cross the blood-brain barrier.

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