The DIPG brain tumor is the deadliest – more vicious than glioblastoma multiforme.
What makes diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma especially brutal is that most diagnoses occur in children between age five and nine.
Glioblastoma Multiforme vs. DIPG
GBM is considered an adult brain tumor, but children can get it; even infants have been diagnosed.
DIPG is considered a pediatric brain tumor, but adults have been diagnosed with it.
GBM is far more common than DIPG, and hence, more people have heard of its horrors. There are only around 300 new cases of DIPG every year in the U.S.
So How Do We Judge What the Deadliest Brain Tumor Is?
Survival rates for GBM:
The American Brain Tumor site states: For adults with more aggressive glioblastoma, treated with concurrent temozolamide and radiation therapy, median survival is about 14.6 months and two-year survival is 30%.
The site then says: However, a 2009 study reported that almost 10% of patients with glioblastoma may live five years or longer.
The GMB survival rate, as you can see, is quite dismal for adults.
The site then states: Children with high-grade tumors (grades III and IV) tend to do better than adults; five-year survival for children is about 25%.
Oddly, the September 2010 issue of CLINICS says for children: The prognosis for recovery is conservative, and 5-year survival rates range from 5% to 15%.
The July 2014 issue of Neuro-Oncology states for adults: Glioblastoma, the most common glioma histology, has a 5-year relative survival of ∼5%.
We can hem and haw all we want over which source for survival data is more accurate, but the big picture is that the survival rates for glioblastoma multiforme are horrible.
However, check out the survival rates for DIPG:
• 10% of children with DIPG are still alive two years after the diagnosis.
• After five years it’s one percent.
• Average survival time after diagnosis — with radiation treatment — is nine to 12 months.
These survival rates speak for themselves. However, it gets worse.
Unlike glioblastoma multiforme, DIPG is inoperable. DIPG grows on the brainstem; surgical intervention would likely cause a fatal injury to the brainstem.
But there’s a second reason why diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma is inoperable: It’s diffuse.
The cancer cells are mixed in with normal cells. Imagine a bucket of shredded paper. Add clumps of wet tissue paper.
Now with a wooden stick, mix it up, making the tatters of tissue paper diffusely distributed among the regular paper shreds.
Trying to extricate a DIPG would be like trying to remove the wet gooey tissue paper without disturbing the regular paper.
This very reason is also why proton beam therapy is useless; it’s impossible to pinpoint the radiation beam on DIPG cells without destroying normal cells.
Top photo credit: Facebook.com/dipgkids. Facebook.com/dipgkids is the place for newly diagnosed families to turn for support and the latest information on clinical trials.
Glioblastoma vs. DIPG as the deadliest brain tumor: You be the judge.