Cancer is known as the most deadly disease. There are five stages of cancer all together and stage 4 is the last phase of cancer. What are the characteristics of stage 4 brain cancer? How can it be diagnosed and treated? How long is someone in stage 4 brain cancer supposed to live?
What is stage 4 brain cancer?
As mentioned above, every cancer stage has its own characteristics that are different from those in other stages. These are the characteristics of stage 4 brain cancer:
- Brain cells outgrow blood supply in stage 4
- These cells grow rapidly
- Brain tumors in stage 4 also spread to other tissues
- New blood vessels also tend to grow during this cancer stage
The symptoms at this level are stated according to their location in the body. Stage 4 brain cancer symptoms are:
- Hearing problems
- Lack of coordination
- Memory loss
- Vision problems
- Weakness and numbness in legs and arms
- Behavior change
- Changes in weight
- Frequent and unusual headaches
Although most brain cancers fall under stage 4 cancer, it is important to classify them as they ought to be. More on the types of cancer is that they are classified depending on the origin of the tumor. According to (WHO) World Health Organization, there are 9 types of brain cancer but will only discuss a few here. Some of these cancers are:
This is a type of cancer in young children and infants. It usually appears in that part of the brain that contains cerebrospinal fluid.
This is the second type of brain cancer. This cancer originates from the cerebral hemisphere and takes about 12% of all the brain cancers. This cancer originates from astrocytes. Astrocytes are types of brain cells.
This is another type of brain cancer found in children. It originates in the cerebellum before spreading to other parts of the body.
This type of cancer occurs in the pineal gland. This refers to the pine shaped gland in the vertebrae part of the brain.
4. Prognosis and life expectancy
In order to determine the chances for survival of a cancer patient, it is important to understand the type of cancer they have. This is because there are different factors that determine life expectancy. Some of the factors that determine survival rate as follows:
- Nature of the cancer
- Treatment received
- Cancer stage at which the disease was diagnosed
- Age of patient
- Type of cancer
- Physical and mental factors
Depending on the stage of the tumor, life expectancy is anywhere from a few months to five years.
- The average life expectancy for patients over 60 is about 1 - 2 years.
- An adult (below 40) is likely to live with the cancer for more than 5 years.
- The 5 year survival rate for stage 4 cancer in infants is lower than 30%.
- Patients with glioblastoma are known to live for less than a year. This is the average time they are known to survive.
- 88% of Pineoblastoma patients live for a year while those suffering from ependymoblastoma are known to die after the first 6 and 12 months of diagnosis.
- Those with medulloblastoma have an average of 5 year. It is only between 50 and 70% that survive here. This is according to the National Cancer Institute.
As cancer at this stage spreads at a very high rate, treatment begins immediately after diagnosis. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are examples of cancer treatments at stage 4. It is only after a scan is done that the doctor progresses with the treatment. A biopsy is also helpful in analyzing tumors.
This is where doctors try to remove all the tumors in the brain. They open the skull and remove all the visible tumors without damaging any tissues in the brain.
- Radiation and chemotherapy
Patients receive chemotherapy after either 2 or 3 weeks of surgery. During chemotherapy, more than one type of drug is used to destroy the cancer cells. This is not the case in radiation. This is because radiation uses ions and not drugs. It is these ions that target the tumor for destruction.
What are the stages of brain cancer?
A brain tumor is the uncontrolled growth of damaged cells in the brain. This growth also spreads to the spinal column causing more harm to the body. Below is a table detailing the stages of a brain cancer:
This is the stage where the cancer has only developed in layers on a particular cell. It is the early stages of brain cancer.
Although the cells are already infected, they appear normal. This is because it is hard to see the cancer cells at this stage. The good thing about the cancer in this stage is that it can be cured. Surgery is the most preferred method of treating stage 1 cancer.
Although the cancer cells are growing at a very high rate in this stage, the cancer is still curable or could be treated. Apparently, chances are that cancer is bound to return even after treatment. This is because it has already spread to most tissues in the body and thus hard to clear.
In this stage, the already damaged cells are growing rapidly. Besides spreading in the brain, these cells begin to spread to other tissues in the body
This is the scariest cancer stage. This is because the disease has already spread to almost all parts of the body and chances of curing it are low. In other words, it is hard to treat stage 4 cancer.