Upon the diagnosis of brain cancer, it may be overwhelming to think of what steps are next in terms of cancer treatment. Is this something that you or your loved one will be able to manage? Are you able to think of the future past this disease affecting the brain tissue? Understanding brain cancer and the complexities that come with it will help you determine if you need to seek out conventional or alternative brain cancer treatments.
Types of Brain Cancer
It’s important to note that there are different types of brain cancer depending on the brain tumor. Some brain tumors are diagnosed as cancerous and other tumors are diagnosed as noncancerous, or benign. A benign type of tumor can be removed through operation. While benign brain tumors are noncancerous, they may still harm the organ by putting extra pressure upon the brain tissues. A malignant tumor is one that consists of cancer cells and is more often fast-growing and unusual in appearance, as demonstrated in an MRI scan. Malignant tumors will usually spread rapidly and overpower areas of the brain’s healthy tissue. According to clinical trials, malignant tumors are likely to be more aggressive and cause intracranial problems.1 Thus, malignant tumors tend to be your biggest worry in terms of pursuing immediate treatment.
Grades of Brain Tumors
One way in which a brain tumor can be evaluated is based on its grade. Because brain tumors vary in growth rate and how they demonstrate signs and symptoms of brain cancer, each tumor is observed underneath a microscope to determine its aggressiveness and impact on brain tissue. There are four grades of determining a brain tumor and are as followed:
Grade 1 – benign tissue, with cells that look like normal brain cells and have slow cell growth.
Grade 2 – tissue that is malignant, with cells that are less appearing like that of normal cells in grade 1.
Grade 3 – malignant tissue with cells that appear very different compared to that of normal cells. Abnormal cells are rapidly growing. Metastases of the cancer cells are apparent.
Grade 4 – malignant tissue with tumor cells that look abnormal and grow incredibly fast.1
Dealing with Brain Cancer
Upon the diagnosis of a brain tumor, a team of doctors will usually evaluate what is the best next step to treat the brain tumor. Most often this will include options for removal through surgery, however, there are opportunities to fight the disease with the help of alternative brain cancer treatments. Whatever the treatment option, it is important for a patient with brain cancer to keep up to date with all appointments with healthcare professionals and associated team members, whether dealing with primary brain tumors or second brain tumors, benign or malignant. The risk for medical problems is generally greater for those with brain cancer and symptoms may also worsen. Survivor care plans can be given by doctors and the patient’s dedicated team members. After treatment, patients will receive follow-up visits for checkups and tests. The doctors want to evaluate that there is no recurrence of cancer or any long-term effects of treatment. Through these evaluations, it can also be discovered if something comes up and can be treated right away.1
Having brain cancer impact your daily life can be very challenging and can cause feelings of worry and depression. It’s a feeling of helplessness and defeat among many individuals, especially for those fighting metastatic brain tumors. For these reasons, there are also various support groups available for both patients who are suffering from brain cancer as well as groups for loved ones of brain cancer patients. It can be helpful for the individual with cancer to speak with others who also have cancer and better understand the situation they are in. The support groups are often available through some medical centers where treatment is given.
Home care is also available for patients with brain cancer in the form of walkers for those who are having trouble walking or maintaining balance. Caregivers may be assigned to come in the home for those who are having mental-status changes. There is hospice care available too in a way of providing pain and symptom relief in the home as well as providing emotional support for the patient and family. This way, the family members and patients can seek comfort in their own homes rather than that of the hospital. Whether you are the patient or loved one, the question “can you live with brain cancer?”, has probably crossed your mind. Here are the statistics and survival rates.
Life Expectancy for Brain Cancer
An individual with brain cancer can look to survival rates, which depends upon certain factors. What influences the brain cancer survival rate includes the type of cancer, the cancer’s location, whether the brain tumor can be removed or reduced through surgery, and the age and overall current health of the patient.1 For example, children’s cancer can differ from the form of cancer found in a full-grown adult.
A long-term survival rate includes life-expectancy greater than that of five years. This benchmark five-year survival rate varies. It can be less than 10% to 32% for the case of aggressive or high-grade brain cancers.
When asked, “can you live with brain cancer?”, it’s important to consider other contributing health factors and how well an individual responds to cancer therapy. The treatments of brain cancer can increase survival for the short term and also may improve the quality of life for some individuals. This period can vary greatly.1
Outcomes of Brain Cancer
Brain cancer is a challenge as it isn’t foreseeable in terms of the end results. Some circumstances include individuals who have a brain tumor removed but may show symptoms again later, while others have successful removal rates of their brain tumor. Individuals with brain cancer can seek support through the Immunity Therapy Center, where a dedicated and trained team of individuals provides support for patients with alternative cancer treatments, as opposed to the common methods of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Patients can seek relief through the Immunity Therapy Center’s more natural and less invasive options for treating cancer.
- Davis, Charles Patrick. Brain Cancer. eMedicinehealth