Stage 4 Brain Cancer
Stage 4 brain cancer is the latest stage rating that doctors give to brain cancer. Stages range from 1 to 4. This rating is based on is maligancy (their tendency to become worse). Both grade 3 and grade 4 tumors are labeled as ‘high-grade’ tumors. This grade is usually assigned after biopsy results are obtained.
Stage 4 Brain Cancer Characteristics
The characteristic that sets grade 4 apart from the other grades is the brain tumors ability to grow quickly and spread to other tissues. This is discovered by observing mitosis or the division and replication of cells. Additionally, stage 4 brain cancer tumors outgrow their blood supply, a condition called ‘necrosis’.
Among adults, the most common types are:
- [popup url="http://www.cancer.gov/Common/PopUps/popDefinition.aspx?id=CDR0000045602&version=Patient&language=English"]Astrocytoma[/popup]: The tumor arises from star-shaped glial cells called [popup url="http://www.cancer.gov/Common/PopUps/popDefinition.aspx?id=CDR0000269436&version=Patient&language=English"]astrocytes[/popup]. It can be any grade. In adults, an astrocytoma most often arises in the cerebrum.
- Grade I or II astrocytoma: It may be called a low-grade glioma.
- Grade III astrocytoma: It’s sometimes called a high-grade or an anaplastic astrocytoma.
- Grade IV astrocytoma: It may be called a [popup url="http://www.cancer.gov/common/popUps/popDefinition.aspx?id=CDR0000045698&version=Patient&language=English"]glioblastoma[/popup] or malignant astrocytic glioma.
- [popup url="http://www.cancer.gov/Common/PopUps/popDefinition.aspx?id=CDR0000045783&version=Patient&language=English"]Meningioma[/popup]: The tumor arises in the meninges. It can be grade I, II, or III. It’s usually benign (grade I) and grows slowly.
- [popup url="http://www.cancer.gov/Common/PopUps/popDefinition.aspx?id=CDR0000046257&version=Patient&language=English"]Oligodendroglioma[/popup]: The tumor arises from cells that make the fatty substance that covers and protects nerves. It usually occurs in the cerebrum. It’s most common in middle-aged adults. It can be grade II or III.
Treatment of Stage 4 Brain Cancer
The usual treatments are chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Surgery is often the first treatment wherein the doctor opens the skull and removes as much of the tumor as possible. Then radiation and chemo follow. MRI is used to monitor the tumor.
Stage 4 Brain Cancer Prognosis
Survival rates vary depending on the type of tumor and the age of the patient with the older patients having the poorest survival rate. The worst prognosis is for glioblastoma multiforme with the patients average survival rate being less than a year. New treatment using DCA (sodium dichloroacetate) has shown promising results. Studies done at they University of Alberta, Canada, on humans shrank tumors by 70% in only 3 weeks. Research into this exciting new alternative cancer treatment is ongoing and may hold great promise for stage 4 brain cancer.