Longer survival expectancy for brain tumor patients

Longer survival expectancy for brain tumor patients

Patients with low-grade brain tumors are now living about a year longer after diagnosis than they did 16 years ago.

A study of a U.S. cancer registry showed that people with a grade II glioma had a median survival expectancy of 57 months in 2010.

That’s 13 months longer than the survival expectancy in 1999. While 13 months may not seem like much, for families facing a death due to brain cancer, an extra year is a precious gift.

In addition, patients with a grade III glioma now have a median survival expectancy of 24 months, a nine-month increase.

Glioma is a category of brain tumor that, according to the American Brain Tumor Association, originates in “the gluey or support tissue of the brain.” Most cancerous brain tumors are gliomas.

The researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine who conducted the study said that these are the first increases in survival expectancy for glioma patients. Improved chemotherapies may have been a big contributor to these advancements.

The study authors pointed out two other trends in care for these types of brain tumors. First, they said that since 2005, radiation has been used less commonly right after diagnosis. Previously, immediate radiation therapy was a typical part of treatment. But studies have shown that starting radiation right away does not seem to make a difference for this type of cancer.

Secondly, the authors note that the national data shows that only about one-third of patients with a glioma had it fully removed. Brain tumors are notoriously tough to take out.

Still, it’s good news to see survival expectancy climb for glioma patients. Here’s hoping this is a trend that holds steady.

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