Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brain Tumor Facts

This post is to share some information I have found out about brain tumors. Prior to this experience I really didn’t know much about them and I believe that unless you have experienced them personally (family, friend, work, self) that most people don’t know anything about brain tumors. Please read this post, learn something new and spread awareness. Thanks!
*please note that the statistics below represent brain tumors as a whole, not necessarily the type of tumor I have been diagnosed with, in any case, the statistics are shocking.

  • There are more than 120 different types of brain tumors, making effective treatment very complicated.
  • Each year over 210,000 people in the United  States are diagnosed with a primary (starts in the brain) or metastatic (spreads to the brain from another place in the body) brain tumor - that’s over 575 people every day.
  • It is estimated that more than 600,000 people in the United States are living with the diagnosis of a primary brain tumor.
  • An estimated 64,530 new cases of primary brain tumors are expected to be diagnosed in 2012. 
  •  Brain tumors are difficult to diagnose; their symptoms often mimic other diseases.
  •  Common symptoms of a brain tumor include headaches, seizures, personality changes, eye weakness, nausea or vomiting, speech disturbances, memory loss.
  • The cause of brain tumors is unknown.
  •  Brain tumors represent only 1% of all cancers
  • Astrocytomas represent 7% of all primary brain tumors.
  • At this time, brain tumor research is underfunded and the public remains unaware of the magnitude of this disease. The cure rate for most brain tumors is significantly lower than that for many other types of cancer.
  •  Because brain tumors are located at the control center for thought, emotion, and movement, their effects on an individual’s physical and cognitive abilities can be devastating.
  • No two brain tumors are alike. Prognosis, or expected outcome, is dependent on several factors including the type of tumor, location, response to treatment, an individual’s age, and overall health status.
  •  Brain tumors are the: the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children under age 20 (leukemia is the first) the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males ages 20- 39  and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in females ages 20–39.
  •  The survival from brain tumor at five years is approximately 30%.
  • Only 12% of males diagnosed with a brain tumor and 15% of females survive beyond 5 years (compared with 50% for all cancers)
  • The five-year relative survival rates following diagnosis of a primary malignant brain tumor by age of diagnosis:
  •      Age 0-19 years: 63.1%
    Age 20-44 years: 50.4%
    Age 45-64 years: 14.2%
    Age 65 or older:  4.9%
  •  The estimated five- and ten-year relative survival rates for malignant brain tumors are 28% and 24% respectively. However, there is a large variation in survival estimates between types of brain tumors
  •  The most common type of primary brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme, is also the most malignant. Average survival, even with aggressive treatment, is less than one year.
  •   More people under 40 die of a brain tumor than from any other cancer.
  •   Brain tumors can be treated by surgery, radiation therapy, stereotactic radiotherapy, chemotherapy or by using these in combination. The most important issue when treating these patients, besides trying to cure them, is to ensure that the quality of life is not compromised.

      The statistics are staggering, while there is research being done it is not enough nor making strides fast enough to affect the thousands living with brain tumors now. The biggest issue with treating brain tumors remains their location. Many are not operable because the side effects would be to great, and they cannot be treated by traditional chemotherapies used to treat many other cancers because of the blood-brain barrier that protects our brain from most harmful toxins. Radiation is another common treatment however with most brain tumors it is a "one-time" shot. Meaning that if it is used and the tumor returns most doctors will not prescribe it again because of the long term effects on surrounding brain tissue. Because of that many people choose the "watch and wait" approach to treatment, waiting to treat until the tumor grows to a point that it may become life threatening or the symptoms are disabling. Currently there is no "cure" for brain tumors, only treatments to keep the tumor "in check" with the goal of prolonging a good quality life. 

      Thank you for reading & please spread awareness!

    American Brain Tumor Association:
    National Brain Tumor Society: 
    World Health Organization:
    National Institute of Health:

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