Recovery Outlook for Brain Tumor
Last Updated: July 15, 2023
Learning you have a brain tumor can be difficult, but working closely with your medical team to develop a comprehensive plan for your treatment and recovery is important for your long-term outlook.
Factors such as the location and size of your brain tumor, treatment options, and your overall health, impact brain tumor survival rates and your recovery. Recovering from a brain tumor can be a complex process, requiring ongoing medical care and support. But with the right treatment, support, and self-care, many patients can recover from a brain tumor and live full, healthy lives.
Factors That Affect Survival Rates and Recovery
With up to as many as 120 types and subtypes of brain tumors, it’s not surprising that recovery rates can vary widely. It can be difficult to predict how long can you live with a brain tumor because each case is unique. Here we outline the major factors that affect your recovery outlook:
- The type of brain tumor: Some brain tumors, such as meningiomas and pituitary adenomas, tend to be non-cancerous and can often be treated successfully with surgery. Other brain tumors, such as glioblastomas, are highly malignant (cancerous and likely to invade normal brain) and can be more difficult to treat.
- The location of the brain tumor: Tumors located in certain areas of the brain may be more difficult to treat, depending how close they are to critical brain structures. For example, the brainstem controls vital functions like breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure, so tumors in this area can be challenging to remove surgically because of the risk. Similarly, tumors involving the basal ganglia or pineal gland are more challenging to access because they’re located deep within the brain, with many important overlying brain regions.
- The size of the brain tumor: Larger tumors may be more difficult to remove surgically because of the risk of damaging nearby structures, causing bleeding and other complications. They can be more likely to recur after treatment.
- Your age and overall health: Younger patients may be more likely to recover from treatment and have better survival rates, while older patients and those with underlying health conditions may be more vulnerable to complications like infections.
- The type of treatment received: Patients who receive aggressive treatment, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, may have better outcomes than those who receive less aggressive treatments.
- The responsiveness of the tumor to treatment: Tumors that respond well to treatment may be more likely to be successfully treated, while tumors that do not respond well may be more difficult to treat and may have less successful outcomes.
Every case of brain tumor is different, so consult with your medical and surgical team for more detailed and personalized information on your expected recovery outlook.
|Age at Diagnosis (years)||All Brain Tumors (%)||Malignant (%)||Nonmalignant (%)|
Expected Recovery Outlook for Some Common Brain Tumors
As noted above, your type of brain tumor is a major consideration when determining survival rates and recovery, so let’s look at some of the most common types:
- Meningiomas: Meningiomas are the most common type of primary brain tumor (originating from the protective layers on the brain) and tend to have high recovery rates because they are usually non-cancerous, meaning they are not likely to invade the normal brain. This makes them easier to treat and often results in a better prognosis. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the 5-year survival rate for meningiomas is about 90%.
- Pituitary adenomas: Pituitary adenomas are also typically non-cancerous and slow growing, plus they’re located at the base of the brain, which makes them easier to remove without complications. For these reasons, these brain tumors tend to have high recovery rates. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for pituitary adenomas is around 95%.
- Gliomas: Gliomas are a type of brain tumor that originate in the glial cells, which provide support and protection for the brain's neurons. The recovery rates for gliomas can vary widely depending on the grade and stage of the tumor, as well as your age and overall health. According to the National Brain Tumor Society, the 5-year survival rate for low-grade gliomas is around 80%, while the 5-year survival rate for high-grade gliomas is much lower, around 25%.
- Astrocytomas: Astrocytomas are a type of glioma that originates in the astrocytes, a type of glial cell. The recovery rates for astrocytomas can also vary widely depending on the grade of the tumor. According to the National Cancer Institute, the 5-year survival rate for low-grade astrocytomas is around 75%, whereas the 5-year survival rate for high-grade astrocytomas is much lower, around 30%.
- Glioblastomas: Glioblastomas are the most aggressive type of glioma: They are invasive and often spread to surrounding brain tissue, plus the tumors can be resistant to standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation treatment. As a result, they tend to have very low recovery rates. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the 5-year survival rate for glioblastomas is around 5%.
Remember these figures are general estimates and may not reflect your individual circumstances. However, the range of survival rates shows how different recovery can look for brain tumor patients.
Improving Your Recovery Outlook
Treatment options, as well as how early the tumor is detected, play a significant role in your prognosis and outlook. In addition, there are several things you can do as a patient to improve your brain tumor recovery. Here are some tips:
- Follow your treatment plan: Your medical and surgical team will develop a treatment plan tailored to your brain tumor type that will also help manage your brain tumor symptoms. It's important to follow this plan closely and take any medications as prescribed. You will also likely require ongoing medical care and monitoring, which may include periodic imaging scans, blood tests, and other follow-up care.
- Communicate with your medical team: Don't be afraid to ask questions or express concerns to your medical team. Good communication can help you understand your treatment options and make informed decisions about your care.
- Take care of your overall health: Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and engaging in regular exercise can help boost your overall health and support your recovery.
- Manage side effects: Some treatments for brain tumors can cause side effects, such as nausea, fatigue, and hair loss. Your medical team can provide medications or other strategies to help manage these side effects and improve your quality of life. Rehabilitation may be necessary to help you regain lost skills or to learn new ways of coping with any physical or cognitive changes that result from the tumor or its treatment.
- Seek emotional support: Coping with a brain tumor can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Seeking support from family, friends, or a support group can help you manage the emotional aspects of your recovery.
- Stay informed: Learn as much as you can about your brain tumor, including the type, grade, and treatment options. Doing so can help you feel more in control of your care and recovery.
It's important to work closely with your medical team to develop a comprehensive plan for your recovery. With the right treatment, support, and self-care, many patients can recover from a brain tumor and live full, healthy lives.
- Factors such as the location and size of your brain tumor, treatment options, and your age and overall health impact brain tumor survival rates and your recovery outlook.
- With as many as 120 types and subtypes of brain tumors, recovery rates can vary widely.
- Benign and slow-growing brain tumors have 5-year survival rates of 80% to 95%, whereas aggressive and malignant brain tumors have much lower 5-year survival rates of 5% to 25%.
- Survival rates are general estimates and may not reflect your individual circumstances.
- For your best possible recovery, stick to your treatment plan, work with your medical team to manage side effects of treatment, take good care of yourself, and make sure to get the emotional support you need.