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Life expectancy for spinal & brain cancer

Updated April 17, 2017

While certain individuals would rather not know the precise survival rates for their particular type of cancer, others view survival rate statistics as a type of challenge, becoming determined that they will beat the odds at any cost. Individuals facing brain and spinal cancers are generally up against long odds, making eventual victory that much more satisfying.

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Brain Cancer

According to Medline Plus, there are two general types of brain cancer: primary and metastatic. Primary brain cancer is cancer that begins within the brain, whereas metastatic brain cancer is cancer which originates elsewhere and spreads to the brain. Symptoms of brain cancer include morning headaches, sensory disturbances (alterations in ability to speak, hear or see), and memory or coordination impairments.

Brain Cancer Survival Rates

According to statistics provided by EMedTV.com, the average brain cancer survival rate is around 34 per cent to 35 per cent, being slightly lower for white males (32.1 per cent) and slightly higher for black males (37.7 per cent). These figures represent five-year survival rates, which is the general percentage of patients who will survive for a total of five years after the first diagnosis of cancer.

Spinal Cancer

According to the Mayo Clinic, spinal cancer is a malignant growth (tumour) that begins to develop within the spine. Even when the tumour is noncancerous it can cause damage by impinging upon nerves, possibly leading to paralysis. Symptoms include localised back pain, general weakness in the legs, partial paralysis or muscle failure or the development of a spinal deformity as the tumour grows.

Spinal Cancer Survival Rate

Survival rate for spinal cancers depend on the specific type of tumour with which a patient is affected. According to eMedicine.com, plasmacytomas (a solitary mass of plasma cells) have a five-year survival rate of 60 per cent, whereas individuals with Ewing's sarcoma (tumours developed from red bone marrow) have a survival rate of only 25 per cent.


Survival rates are merely averages taken from a large sample of individuals. Your individual case, however, can easily provide for a survival rate that is better or worse depending on the aggressiveness and stage of the cancer. Do not get bogged down mentally by the statistics, as keeping a positive outlook will only benefit you in the long run in your fight against cancer.

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About the Author

TS Jordan is an Ohio licensed attorney living and practicing out of the Cleveland area. In addition to his Juris Doctorate, he holds a Bachelors' Degree in Information Systems. He has been writing professionally for less than a year.

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