Most children diagnosed with a brain stem tumor, specifically a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, die within a 12-month period following cancer detection, according to the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation. Focal brain stem glioma, meanwhile, has an excellent prognosis with documented long-term survival rates for patients.
Common treatments for childhood brain stem gliomas include neurosurgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. However, despite aggressive therapy, DIPG carries a poor outlook due to the cancer's quick progression, which makes it difficult to treat.
Although rare, brain stem gliomas can also occur in adults. Low-grade gliomas have a more favorable outcome with a median survival that ranges between 4.9 and 7.3 years, notes the United States National Institutes of Health. The prognosis in higher-grade brain stem tumors, which are comparable to the diffuse intrinsic form in children, remains poor.