The Stages of Brain and Spinal Cord Cancer

The term stage refers to the extent your tumor has spread. The stage is important in determining the likelihood of cure with treatment.

Tumors of the brain and spinal cord — the central nervous system — are different than other cancers, however. Because they rarely spread to other parts of the body (which is what is dangerous about other cancers), there is no formal staging system for brain and spinal cord tumors.

The risk with brain and spinal cord tumors is that though they are not fast growing and do not often spread (metastasize), they eventually will invade the brain.

Factors that Impact Treatment and Outlook

Your Scott & White Integrated Care Team will look at the following factors when selecting treatment options and determining the likelihood of cure:

  • Type of tumor (glioblastoma, astrocytoma, etc.)
  • Grade of tumor (how quickly it’s likely to grow)
  • Your age
  • Your functional ability (based on whether the tumor has affected your brain functions)
  • Size and location of tumor
  • Whether the tumor can be removed in full or in part by surgery
  • Whether the tumor has spread into the CSF or other parts of your brain or spinal cord
  • Whether the tumor has spread beyond your CNS

Source: American Cancer Society


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