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WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Surgical removal of the entire tumor may extend the lives of patients with a rare and deadly type of brain cancer called brainstem high-grade gliomas, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed data from 103 patients in the United States who had either a biopsy (15%) or had surgery to remove part or all of the tumor (85%) between 1973 and 2015. Of those who had surgery, about 19% had total removal of their tumor.
Median survival after diagnosis was eight months for those who had biopsy; 11 months with partial tumor removal; and about 16 months for those whose tumor was completely removed. Median means half lived longer, half for a shorter time.
Survival among a small number of patients who had total surgical removal and other factors associated with longer survival -- such as younger age -- was up to four times longer than patients who had only biopsies.
"Knowing what these surgeries can do could help neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists and patients have a better sense of what to expect so we can move forward toward better standardized care for these rare and critical tumors," study leader Dr. Debraj Mukherjee said in a Hopkins news release. He's an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Hopkins.
About 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with high-grade gliomas each year. Only a small number of those tumors develop in the brainstem, which controls nearly all life-sustaining functions, including heart rate, breathing and consciousness.
-- Robert Preidt
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