TAMPA, Fla--The average brain tumor patient survives just 1 year
after diagnosis, so long-term survival, defined as living at least
100% longer than the median survival of historical controls, is
especially remarkable. Previous studies have shown that only 7%
to 10% of brain cancer patients survive long-term.
Why a small number of patients have survived for 4, 10, even 20
years is not clearly understood, but a few prognostic factors
are beginning to emerge, said Surasak Phuphanich, MD, chief of
neurology services, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research
Dr. Phuphanich spoke to a group of 45 survivors, their families,
and physicians at Moffitt's Brain Cancer Survivor Day luncheon
Moffitt held the program to recognize its own patients with primary
malignant gliomas who have survived between 4.2 years and 20 years.
Their ages range from 8 to 58 years (median, 33). Nine are males
and 10 are females. Many of them are working and leading normal
Dr. Phuphanich and his colleagues have identified six factors
that appear to influence long-term survival.
1. Age at diagnosis. "People younger than 45 tend
to do better. We don't know why, but it may be because younger
people have better immune system response and can tolerate treatment
better," he said.
2. Type of brain tumor. Patients with anaplastic astrocytoma
tumors tend to survive longer than those with glioblas-toma multiforme,
the most deadly. Sixty percent of tumors are glioblastoma multiforme,
and even patients receiving surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy
typically survive for only 1 year, Dr. Phuphanich said.