Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Adults

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival rates for selected adult brain and spinal cord tumors

Survival rates are a way for doctors and patients to get a general idea of the outlook (prognosis) for people with a certain type of tumor. Some people want to know the statistics for people in their situation, while others may not find them helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you do not want to know the survival rates for adult brain and spinal cord tumors, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after being diagnosed. Of course, many of these people live much longer than 5 years. Five-year relative survival rates, such as the numbers below, assume that some people will die of other causes and compare the observed survival with that expected for people without the tumor. This is a more accurate way to describe the prognosis for patients with a particular type of tumor.

To get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Although the numbers below are among the most current available, improvements in treatment since then may result in a better outlook for people now being diagnosed with brain and spinal cord tumors.

The numbers below come from the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS) and are based on people who were treated between 1995 and 2010. As can be seen below, survival rates for brain and spinal cord tumors can vary widely by age, with younger people tending to have having better outlooks than older people. The survival rates for those 65 or older are generally lower than the rates for the ages listed below.

These numbers are for some of the more common types of brain and spinal cord tumors. Numbers are not readily available for all types of tumors, often because they are rare or are hard to classify.

Type of Tumor

5-Year Relative Survival Rate

 

Age

20-44

45-54

55-64

    Low-grade (diffuse) astrocytoma

    65%

    43%

    21%

    Anaplastic astrocytoma

    49%

    29%

    10%

    Glioblastoma

    17%

    6%

    4%

    Oligodendroglioma

    85%

    79%

    64%

    Anaplastic oligodendroglioma

    67%

    55%

    38%

    Ependymoma/anaplastic ependymoma

    91%

    86%

    85%

    Meningioma

    92%

    77%

    67%

Survival rates are based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen in any person’s case. The type of tumor is important in estimating a person’s outlook. But many other factors can also affect outlook, such as the location of the tumor and whether it can be removed with surgery, as well as a person’s age and overall health. Even when taking these other factors into account, survival rates are at best rough estimates. Your doctor is your best source of information on this, as he or she is familiar with your situation.


Last Medical Review: 03/05/2014
Last Revised: 03/05/2014