Glioblastoma is a highly malignant cancerous tumor. It is an astrocytoma, one of several types of glioma, which are tumors that form from the glial cells responsible for the brain and its functions. Astrocytes are star-shaped glial cells that hold neurons in place and provide nutrients, and it’s from these that glioblastomas arise. Given this, they have a ready blood supply which makes them grow faster than many tumors.
Glioblastoma Prognosis Factors
Several factors make glioblastoma such a dangerous tumor. One is its rapidly advancing nature. Additionally, as it grows it sends out projection-like tentacles, which allow it to touch many parts of the brain, including those necessary for speech, balance, vision, hearing, and motor control. This makes surgery to remove the tumor especially difficult, because it’s hard to find all the places the tumor has spread to, and because it’s difficult to remove it from those fragile areas, making the prognosis even worse.
Another important factor in determining prognosis is the type of glioblastoma that has developed. While secondary glioblastomas start at grade two or three and then slowly develop to grade four, primary glioblastomas start out a grade four immediately and are extremely malignant. Furthermore, those who survive one glioblastoma are at an increased risk of developing another one. The patient’s status is also significant for prognosis. Young, healthy patients generally face a better prognosis. The size, location, and grade of the tumor all play their part as well.
Glioblastoma Prognosis Statistics
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the median survival rate for those with glioblastoma is two to three years. Adults who have the more aggressive form, even with treatment, have a median survival of about fourteen months. Only 30% of adults live two years or more, but 10% of people live at least five years. While it is most common in the 60 to 80 year range, it can affect a person of any age. Those under the age of 45 tend to develop secondary glioblastoma more commonly than primary, and children commonly withstand the tumor better than adults. In fact, up to 25% of children live for five or more years.