Survival rates of gliomas vary depending on the type of grade of tumor, as well as the patient’s age. The older the patient is during diagnosis and treatment, the worse their prognosis.
Gliomas are tumors that originate in the brain and spinal cord. They are tumors of the glial cells or supportive cells such as astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and ependymal cells that surround nerve cells and help their growth and function. About 33% of brain tumors are gliomas.
In general, the 5-year survival rate for brain tumors are as follows:
- Age 15: Over 75%
- Ages 15-39: Over 72%
- Ages 40 and older: 21%
The 5-year survival rates are the highest for low-grade ependymomas, oligodendrogliomas, and astrocytomas, and are the lowest for glioblastomas.
|Type of brain tumor||Age group||5-year survival rate|
In 2021, it was estimated that 24,530 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with primary cancerous tumors of the brain and spinal cord and an estimated 18,600 adults will die from primary cancerous brain and central nervous system tumors.
What are the symptoms of gliomas?
Glioma symptoms appear slowly and may not be noticeable at first. Some gliomas do not cause any symptoms and might be diagnosed when you see the doctor about something else.
Symptoms are caused by the tumor pressing on the brain or spinal cord and may include:
How are gliomas diagnosed?
Diagnosis of glioma is based on medical history as well as tests:
- Physical exam: The exam tests vision, hearing, speech, strength, sensation, balance, coordination, reflexes, and cognitive skills.
- Brains scans: Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans, which use computers to create detailed images of the brain, are the most common scans used to diagnose brain tumors.
- Biopsy: This is a procedure that involves removing a small sample of the tumor for examination under a microscope. Depending on the location of the tumor, the biopsy and removal of the tumor may be performed at the same time. If doctors cannot perform a biopsy, they will diagnose the brain tumor and determine a treatment plan based on other test results.
How is a glioma treated?
Treatment a glioma depends on several factors, including:
- Previous brain cancer treatment
- Location, type, and size of the tumor
- Age of the patient
- General health of the patient
For most people, surgery is the first line of treatment for a glioma. A surgeon may be able to remove all the tumor they can see if it is easily accessible.
However, gliomas can be hard to remove completely, especially hard to reach, or near delicate areas of the brain. Because of this, additional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often recommended post surgery.
Gliomas cannot be cured completely. However, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy may help you manage symptoms and prevent progression of the disease.
What should I do if I have a glioma?
Seek medical advice and follow the prescribed treatment protocol. After treatment, stay in close communication with your doctor. You will need regular imaging scans to monitor your condition and see if the cancer returns.
Brain cancer treatment can cause damage to healthy brain tissue. Rehabilitation with physical therapists or occupational therapists can help you regain skills such as walking, speaking, and remembering.
Support groups can also help you and your family manage physical and emotional challenges of living with a brain tumor.
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