Saturday, July 2, 2011

Survival Expectancy of Glioblastoma patients

The first thing I wanted to know when I learned that my wife got glioblastoma was how long she would live from the time of diagnosis. I guess this would be the case of most caregivers.

Here are some of the information I gathered about life expectancy of GBM.


1) 13 months (Harrison's principles of internal medicine)

Treated with dexamethasone alone following surgery, the mean survival of patients <65 years with glioblastoma is 7 to 9 months.

Survival is prolonged to 11 to 13 months with radiation therapy. Focal brain irradiation is less toxic and is as effective as whole-brain radiation for primary glial tumors. Radiation is generally administered to the tumor mass, as defined by contrast enhancement on a CT or MRI scan, plus a 3- to 4-cm margin. A total dose of 5000 to 7000 cGy is administered in 25 to 35 equal fractions, 5 days per week.

Chemotherapy is marginally effective and is often used as an adjuvant therapy following surgery and radiation therapy.


* Based on this information, I calculated what I could have gotten from each treatment.

= Surgery - 9 months
= Radiation - additional 4 months (maximum)
= Chemo - the source says chemotherapy is marginally effective. The chemo drug I used for my wife, Temodar, is known to add 2 months of survival time.

As the surgery of my wife failed to cut the tumor away, the time I got from the treatments (radiation and chemo) could be 6 months at most. However, at the present she is at 25th months from the diagnosis. I should also mention that Temodar may have added 2 more months but my wife had to stay in the hospital longer than 2 months because of pneumonia (that happens to 1 among 5,000 patients who take Temodar) and other side-effects of Temodar. Looking back on it, chemo was totally useless. It just gave her pain and severely lowered quality of the life.


2) 722.98 days (about 24 months) - UCLA’s real-time survival data for GBM

This figure is for people aged 35 to 50. I used this figure to estimate my wife’s life expectancy as she is 45 years old.

Other age groups survival data are as follows.

20 to 35: 1,018.31 days (33 months)
50 to 70: 500.75 days (16 months)
70 to 100: 419.96 days (13 months)


The website link is here. It is not the UCLA website but another website having the older information of the UCLA page. The new page of UCLA website is harder to understand than old one.

* Some information on survival expectancy of GBM are median figures. To understand the difference between the Mean and the Median, read this article written by Stephen Jay Gould, an eminent scientist who successfully fought cancer based on an objective understanding of median.

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