The fourth stage of brain cancer occurs when cancer cells are aggressively dividing. This type of tumor can get bigger, be malignant, spread quickly, and be more difficult to treat.
There are many types of brain cancer, depending on the type of cells affected. Glioblastoma is the most frequently found, about 52% of all cases of brain tumors.
Quoting Johns Hopkins Medicine, glioblastoma is a stage 4 brain cancer that attacks astrocytes (star-shaped cells in the brain). Cancer cells in glioblastoma have their own blood vessels, so it is very easy to enlarge and multiply. The most common location is in the cerebrum.
Symptoms of stage 4 brain cancer
In its early stages, glioblastoma may not cause symptoms. However, when brain cancer has reached stage 4, several things may be felt by the sufferer.
Symptoms that appear in stage 4 brain cancer are caused by the tumor getting bigger and pressing on the surrounding brain tissue. This condition can cause swelling (edema) of the brain.
Usually, the effects include physiological problems, such as nausea, severe headaches, or vomiting. Cognitive impairment can also be affected depending on the location of the brain tumor.
The following are some of the characteristics of stage 4 brain cancer, namely:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Huge headache
- Loss of consciousness
- Constant drowsiness
- Changes in behavior, mood, and concentration
- Difficulty communicating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Visual disturbance
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty thinking or learning
- Unintentional movement
- Increased pain
- Skin feels cold
Treatment of stage 4 brain cancer
Brain cancer treatment depends on the type, size, and overall health condition. But generally, surgery is not the first choice for stage 4 brain cancer because it spreads very quickly and is difficult to remove with surgery.
The standard treatment for stage 4 brain cancer is surgery (for which it is still possible), daily radiotherapy, and oral chemotherapy.
The following are some of the possible glioblastoma treatment options:
The neurosurgeon will perform a surgical procedure to remove as many cancer cells as possible. However, because the spread can reach normal brain tissue, complete removal may not be possible.
Radiation therapy as a treatment for stage 4 brain cancer will use high-energy rays. Protons or X-rays, for example, can destroy cancer cells.
You will lie down, while the radiation machine directs the beam to a precise point in the brain.
If surgery is not possible, the doctor will perform radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Treatment can also be combined with chemotherapy. This will use drugs in the form of pills or injections that work to kill cancer cells.
The most commonly used chemotherapy drug, including stage 4 brain cancer, is temozolomide. Some chemotherapy drugs for another stage 4 brain cancer that may be prescribed include:
- Polifeprosan 20 with carmustine implant
Then, some new treatments and medications are being tested in clinical trials, namely:
- Gene therapy
- Stem cell therapy
- Vaccine therapy
- Targeted therapy
How long can people with stage 4 brain cancer survive?
Everyone who experiences a certain disease must expect to heal. Until now, many factors can affect the survival rate of cancer patients, one of which is the overall health condition.
So far, the best chance of stage 4 brain cancer patients undergoing treatment according to doctor’s recommendations ranges from 15-16 months. Even so, some patients can survive up to 5 years or more although this is less common
Children with advanced cancer may survive longer than adults. About 25% of children with stage 4 brain cancer live for 5 years or more.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing this disease, there is nothing wrong with joining a support program to reduce physical, emotional, and spiritual fatigue. It is also important to continue to accompany him through treatment. Because cancer treatment, especially stage 4 brain cancer, can be very tiring and make them hopeless.