What Is the Brain Cancer Survival Rate?

Pamela Cannaday by Pamela Cannaday | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/15/2018

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Brain cancer, and other tumors of the spine and central nervous system (CNS), is one of the least common types of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, just 1.4% of all new cancers are brain and CNS tumors. Of course, if you are one of those people with a brain cancer diagnosis, you probably want to know the brain cancer survival rate.

This article will help you understand what the brain cancer survival rate is used for and what factors affect it. It’s important to note that the brain cancer survival rate is just an estimate or guide; the American Cancer Society suggests your actual prognosis depends on a number of factors described in more detail below.

What are the different types of brain cancer?

In the medical community, the term “brain tumor” is used more often than “brain cancer” to describe the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to the American Cancer Society. These tumors, whether they are benign (non-cancerous) or cancerous, can press on and destroy normal brain tissue, causing severe disability or even death.

The American Cancer Society states that, unlike other cancers, there is no formal staging system for brain tumors because brain tumors almost never spread to other parts of the body. Your doctor will consider a number of variables when determining your brain cancer survival rate and overall outlook:

  • Your age.
  • If the tumor is affecting your activities and general function.
  • The type of brain or spinal cord tumor.
  • How quickly it’s growing (also called the tumor grade).
  • Where the tumor is located and its overall size.
  • How much, if any, of the tumor can be removed with surgery.
  • Whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the brain or CNS.

What is the brain cancer survival rate?

Most of the time, the brain cancer survival rate refers to the number of people who are still alive five years after a diagnosis of brain cancer. It’s usually expressed as a percentage; a brain cancer survival rate of 75% indicates that 75 people out of 100 are still alive at least five years after treatment for a brain tumor. You may also hear your doctor talk about a 10-year or even 15-year brain cancer survival rate.

The brain cancer survival rate statistics for many types of tumors tend to be significantly better for those who are diagnosed at a younger age. Below is a list of five-year brain cancer survival rate statistics from the American Cancer Society based on age of diagnosis:

Tumor Type Age 20-44 Age

45-54

Age

55-64

Low grade astrocytoma 65% 43% 21%
Anaplastic astrocytoma 49% 29% 10%
Glioblastoma 17% 6% 4%
Oligodendroglioma 85% 79% 64%
Ependymoma 91% 86% 85%
Meningioma 92% 77% 67%

 

The brain cancer survival rates for those over age 65 are generally lower than the survival rates listed in the table, according to the ACS. Brain cancer survival rates are not available for all types of tumors, usually because some tumors are rare or hard to categorize.

Looking for more information about Medicare and brain cancer survival rates?

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