What Factors Affect Brain Cancer Survival?

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  • Written By: April S. Kenyon
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Factors affecting brain cancer survival include the type, size, and location of the brain tumor, as well as the grade and stage of the cancer. Brain cancer survival may also be dependent upon how far the cancer has spread and the operability of the tumor. The patient’s age and overall health also play a vital role in brain cancer survival. Types of treatment received, as well as the overall response to treatment, can have an effect on survival.

There are more than 100 various types and classifications of brain tumors categorized as either primary brain cancer or metastatic brain cancer. Primary cancer indicates a brain tumor that originates and is confined to only the brain. Metastatic brain cancer indicates that the cancer originated in another area of the body and spread to the brain tissue. Treatment and brain cancer survival rates are generally higher for patients with primary tumors, though metastatic brain cancer can still be successfully treated depending upon the location, the health of the patient, and the aggressiveness of the malignancy.


The location of the tumor is a primary determinate of brain cancer survival. Cancer cells and pressure from the tumor can greatly affect the brain tissue in the surrounding area. Tumors located or embedded in certain areas of the brain are often considered to be more dangerous than those located on the surface of the brain or at the base of the spinal cord. Treatment and operability of brain cancer is also largely determined by the location of the tumor.

Brain cancer that is embedded deep within the tissue of the brain or has spread to numerous locations may be considered inoperable. In this instance, treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation may still be administered, though the chances of brain cancer survival are greatly reduced. The aggressiveness of the cancer also plays a large role in the survival rate and treatment success.

In addition to the type and location of the tumor, the particular stage of cancer is also a factor that affects brain cancer survival. Brain cancer is classified into four stages, or grades. Stages 1 and 2 are considered slow growing, while grades 3 and 4 indicate advancing cancer. Slow growing tumors in the first two stages are generally considered easier to treat successfully than brain cancer that may spread or advance quickly. In some instances, grades 1 and 2 are used to describe the aggressiveness of benign tumors, while grades 3 and 4 indicate the various stages of malignancy.

Another factor contributing to brain cancer survival is the overall health of the patient. Survival probability is generally greater for those who are in good health before the cancer diagnosis. The overall effect the cancer has upon the body plays a large role in the recovery and survival rate of patients. Age is also a determining factor. Younger patients are generally considered better able to handle the health complications and treatment procedures than older individuals.


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