Last stages of brain cancer

Updated March 23, 2017

There isn't much that the medical community seems to know about brain cancer, except that it is completely incurable. Some say that the various stages of brain cancer can be broken down into four definable parts, but the medical community seems to hold that symptoms are a better measuring stick than stages. No two patients are exactly alike when it comes to treatments or response levels.


The most common type of brain cancer is called glioblastoma multiforme (also known as GBM), but there are at least fifteen others. Whatever the type of brain tumour, the symptoms of onset are similar.


Some end-stage symptoms to look for are muscular atrophy, incontinence, preoccupation or distancing from others, and decreased eating or refusal to eat.

KPS Scale

The Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) scale is the system hospitals use when determining disease progression. Hospice care is indicated when medical reports show that the tumour is progressing aggressively, meaning the tumour may relocate to a new area, displace itself between both hemispheres of the brain, or may spread to other parts of the body.

KPS Scale Definitions

A patient usually requires hospice at 50 points or below. A few indicators are when normal activities of daily living cease and the patient takes in less nutrition and water (see Resources below).

End-Stage Symptoms

Two landmark end-stage symptoms signalling the last hours/days are the last water intake (death usually occurs within 3 to 5 days), and the patient's breathing changes, becomes more laboured or is filled with mucus (death usually occurs within 4 hours to half a day later).

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Renee Greene has been writing professionally since 1984 when she began as a news clerk for "The Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer." She has written nonfiction books and a book of Haikus. She holds an associate degree from Phillips Junior College and is an English major at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College.