About brain cancer survival rates

Updated February 06, 2018

Brain cancer remains one of the most incurable forms of cancer, with an average survival period of one to two years. About 22,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease this year. There is still no cure for brain cancer, and treatment options have improved little, with only two new methods gaining approval in the past quarter-century.

Factors Affecting Survival

Several factors can influence the five-year survival rate of cancer patients. These include the size of the tumour, its location in the brain, the type and severity of the cancer, the stage of the cancer and the overall health of the patient. If a brain tumour is noncancerous, or benign, it can often be removed and the patient can have a complete recovery.

How Survival Rates are Calculated

Survival rates for brain cancer are typically expressed on a five-year basis, which means the percentage of patients who are still alive five years after the original diagnosis. Survival statistics are based on large numbers of people, and should not be used to predict the survival of an individual patient.

Five-Year Survival Rate Examples

According to, about one in three brain cancer patients survive for five years after diagnosis, with African-Americans having a slighter better chance of survival than Caucasians. The North American Brain Tumor Coalition also indicates a survival rate of 35 per cent, while stating that this percentage has changed little in several decades.

Age and Survival

A patient's age has much to do with how long he will survive with brain cancer, as the odds decrease with age. According to, children to the age of 14 have a 73 per cent chance of surviving five years, while the rate drops to 55 per cent for young adults between 15 and 44. Middle-aged patients between 45 and 64 have a 16 per cent survival rate, and the elderly have a survival rate of only 5 per cent.

Other Facts

Despite the gloomy statistics, it has been shown that a combination of radiation treatment and chemotherapy can lengthen the life of brain cancer survivors, and in some cases, even improve the quality of life, while patients who forgo treatment do not live as long.

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About the Author

Chris Joseph writes for websites and online publications, covering business and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from York College of Pennsylvania.