Glioblastoma Survival Rate: Facing the Facts

The glioblastoma survival rate is not a mere statistic, if you or a loved one is suffering from glioblastoma multiforme. It is your reality, and you must learn to face it. Luckily, you have science and your loved ones to back you up.

            First of all, it is important to know the basics. Glioblastoma multimorme is the most common and most aggressive form of brain tumor, although it affects only 1-2 out of every 100,000 people. A brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the brain. In the case of glioblastoma, the brain tumor originates in the brain rather than metastises from other parts of the body. It accounts for 52% of all functional tissue tumors and 20% of intracranial tumors. This is a malignant type of brain tumor, meaning it can spread the abnormal cells to other parts of the body.  

            There are many treatment options that may directly affect the Glioblastoma survival rate. Without treatment, the patient may live for as little as three months after diagnosis. With treatment, however, this period becomes longer. Ultimately, results vary according to several factors including:

  • Age – Younger patients are more likely to survive longer
  • KPS score- This is a way of quantifying the patient’s symptoms. Thus, a KPS of 100% means the patient has no visible symptoms and can still function normally. 90% means that the patient is almost normal, with few symptoms, while a KPS of 20% is used to indicate that the patient is very ill and must be confined. 10% means that the patient is rapidly deteriorating, while 0% means that the patient is dead. 

The glioblastoma survival rate also depends on the treatment that is used. In the case of surgery, patients who are younger than 50 years old and have a KPS score of higher than greater than or equal to 90, the historical median survival time is 17 months.  Historical 1-year survival in this group is 70%, while 3-year and 5-year survival rates are at 20% and 10%, respectively. The historical median time grows shorter and the survival rate per year becomes lower when the patient group is older or has a lower KPS score, or both.

      Combining surgery with radiotherapy or temozolomide chemotherapy has also been shown to increase survival time to 1-2 years. In 2007, a study showed that combining radiation with the use of the drug Temodar can increase the 4-year glioblastoma survival rate up to four times that of radiation alone. This may even extend to 5 years in patients who have a good KPS.

      Ultimately, your doctor will decide on a set of symptomatic and palliative treatments, depending on your own physical condition and preferences. It is very important that you and your family work properly with your doctors so that any relevant family information can be given to the doctor. In most cases, genetics will also determine how responsive you will be to the treatment. Ask questions too and get all the information that you can, so that you will know what to expect and how to manage your symptoms.

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