What is the prognosis of treated brain cancer?
Survival of treated brain cancer varies with the cancer type (low-grade versus aggressive and/or inoperable, for example), location, overall age, and general health of the patient. In general, most treatment plans seldom result in a cure. Reports of survival rate or life expectancy greater that five years (which is considered to be long-term survival) vary from less than 10% to a high of 32%, no matter what treatment plan is used; recovery (cure) from brain cancer is possible, but realistically, complete recovery does not occur often. However, about 75% of children will survive pediatric brain cancer longer than five years; often because of chronic diseases, the elderly have poorer outcomes except with the lowest grade tumors.
So, why use any treatment plan? Without treatment, brain cancers are usually aggressive and result in death within a short time span. Treatment plans can prolong survival and can improve the patient's quality of life for some time. Again, the patient and caregivers should discuss the prognosis when deciding on treatment plans.
In general, life expectancy in patients with brain cancer is usually described as a survival rate five years after diagnosis. The survival rate is expressed as a percentage of people still alive five years after the diagnosis and/or treatment. The survival rates vary with the type and grade of brain cancer and the age of the patient. For example, glioblastomas in patients aged 20-44 have a five-year survival rate of 17% and only a 4% rate in patients aged 55-64. In contrast, patients with a meningioma (a benign brain tumor) in the same age groups have survival rates of 92% and 67%, respectively. These survival rates change as advancements in treatment plans improve; the patient and his/her doctors should discuss these rates as they are only estimates, and each person is different. Survival with no reoccurrence of the disease after five years is considered a cure by some; however, close follow-up with doctors is usually recommended to quickly evaluate any possible recurrence of the cancer.