Brain cancer is among one of the deadliest forms of cancer. eMed TV reports that in 2005, nearly 19,000 people were diagnosed with brain cancer; almost 13,000 of them died from it within a year. If caught early, brain cancer treatment can extend someone’s life. Unfortunately for many, brain cancer is caught in Stage IV, which has a low recovery rate. Early detection, however, can help discovery of brain tumors long before they reach Stage IV.
Brain Cancer Types
There are two types of brain cancer: primary and metastatic. Primary brain cancer is the result of cancerous tumors originating in the brain or skull area. Those tumors and cancerous cells do not spread beyond the affected area. Metastatic brain cancer comes from cancer tumors elsewhere in the body that have metastasized, or spread. For example, in stage four lung cancer, the cells will metastasize from a tumor through the neck and to the brain.
Discovery of early stage brain cancer depends on how quickly a patient is diagnosed for related symptoms. Symptoms are usually dependent upon where the tumor is located. For example, tumors in the frontal lobe will cause pain in the front of the head, and possibly slight memory impairment.
Stage I diagnosis will show brain cancer cells present, but they have not spread. Stage II will show the formation of a tumor in the affected part of the brain. In stage three, the tumor has grown and has become aggressive and has spread to surrounding tissues.
Discovery of Stage IV cancer can be prompted by significant symptoms. Doctors will use biopsies, X-rays and CT scans to locate the tumorAt Stage IV, the brain cancer, regardless of what type, has become very aggressive and deeply rooted into its location. See the additional resources for specific brain cancer types.
Upon Stage IV, symptoms will be largely related to the location of the tumor and any other surrounding areas. A stage IV brain cancer tumor located in the frontal lobe could cause significant memory impairment, significant behavioral changes and even paralysis. Patients can lose their vision and sense of smell. Stage IV brain cancer tumors have also spread to other tissue, including parts of the brain as well as the rest of the body via the spine. Associated cancer symptoms of those affected areas can also manifest.
Stage IV Treatment
Treatment for Stage IV brain cancer can be difficult due to the aggressive nature of brain tumors. Surgery is often performed to remove as much of the tumor as possible without damaging the brain and its functions. This can sometimes involve removing part of the skull or even a section of the brain via a craniotomy in order to preserve the unaffected areas. Radiation and chemotherapy treatment can be performed, but is mostly affective on metastasized cells elsewhere in the body because the brain tumors are too aggressive to treat that way at stage four.
The five-year survival rate for cancer expresses how many patients survive beyond five years after diagnosis. The overall five-year rate for brain cancer is 33 percent. With glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer, most patients die between nine and 12 months after diagnosis.