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What Factors Affect Brain Tumor Survival?

By Sarah Sullins
Updated May 17, 2024
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Brain tumor survival refers to the amount of time a person is able to survive after receiving treatment for a brain tumor. The rate of survival depends on many different factors. Some of these factors may include age, tumor type, and the location of the tumor.

One of the factors that affects brain tumor survival is age. In general, younger patients have better chances of survival. Those who are older may not respond as well to treatment or may not have the health reserves to weather the disease; as a result, sometimes they do not survive as long as younger, healthier individuals. Although children and young adults may have a better chance of survival, temporary or permanent brain damage may still result from the aggressive treatment that is needed to combat the tumor.

There are more than a hundred types of brain tumors, and they can all be divided into two categories: primary and secondary brain tumors. Primary tumors start in the brain and usually don't spread to the rest of the body. A secondary tumor is one that starts in another area of the body and spreads to the brain; these are commonly known as brain cancer. Discovering the type of tumor a person has and determining whether it began in the brain or in another part of the body can play a huge role in determining brain tumor survival. While many people mistakenly believe that non-cancerous brain tumors cannot be deadly, however, a cancer diagnosis is only one factor that contributes to brain tumor survival.

The location of a brain tumor — even a benign one — can affect a person's chances of survival. Certain areas of the brain are critical to survival. When tumors grow in the brain, they can compromise the functioning of critical areas by pressing against then or cutting off blood flow. Often, if a brain tumor affects these areas, an individual may not be able to survive for as long.

Brain tumor survival may also depend on the size of a person's tumor. If the tumor is particularly large, it may harm more areas of the brain that are necessary to living a healthy and normal life. Smaller tumors might not have this affect because it is likelier that they will not affect necessary areas of the brain. The less the brain is affected, the greater the chance that a person will survive treatment.

Other factors that may affect brain tumor survival are other medical conditions and treatment time. Other diseases can affect the treatment options that are appropriate to individual cases, and may mask symptoms, delaying treatment. The amount of time between when a person develops a tumor and when it gets treated can also affect his or her survival rate greatly. There is a higher chance of survival for those who are diagnosed and treated quickly, before the tumor has progressed, than for those who begin treatment when the tumor's effects are already more severe.

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