May 26th, 2009

spork

Anaplastic astrocytoma (and mutant powers)

EDIT: A big thanks to everyone who's answered; I've definitely got more of an idea of where I can go with this.  I'm so glad that I moved from just reading this community to actually asking.

Setting:
United Kingdom. 2100-ish, but with a totalitarian dictatorship that's been in place for about fifty years, so development of just about everything has been pretty stunted.

Background: The main character (male, 50-55) is a regenerate. This means he has accelerated cell regrowth including wound healing, a kinda overpowered immune system, etc etc. (In case it's of any use, his blood doesn't have healing properties - it absorbs energy from surrounding tissue so fast that only he can cope with having it in his system; it necroses the flesh of anyone else.) Whilst in his twenties, complicated science-come-phlebotinum meant that he gained extra powers as well, at the cost of genetic stability. In other words, you've got fast cell growth and a higher likelihood of genetic abnormalities cropping up - I figured that by the time I needed to kill him off non-violently, cancer was appropriate.

He dropped off the grid when he was about thirty, because the government is incredibly hostile to mutants. As in... imprisonment or (occasionally) execution. Therefore he has no access to hospital-level healthcare, though he has contacts at, say, GP level.

What I want: Basically, he needs to be at a stage of having eighteen to twenty-four months to live (timescale a little bit flexible but not very) at the time that we meet up with him. His health needs to be failing, but not to the extent that he can't hide it (the people around him aren't very observant and won't see him a lot of the time, but still). An ideal, though, would be a time when symptoms are definitely there, so... personality changes, headaches, vision problems and possibly seizures are pretty much preferable.

Questions (finally):

1)
Is this (timescale plus current symptoms) plausible with untreated anaplastic astrocytoma? I can handwave things a little bit (speed up or slow down the timescale) but I really can't find websites that talk about its progression whilst untreated.

2) Without medical intervention, how would it be possible to realise that he's got a brain tumour? I don't need anything more specific, obviously, than that. Would it be possible to tell that there's something seriously wrong just from a combination of symptoms and that shining-a-light-in-the-eyes thing?

3) Without medical equipment, would it actually be possible to give him an estimated time-until-death? If not, I can work around it, but is there any way that he could get a rough guestimate?

Terms searched: Starting with "cancer", then "brain tumour", "astrocytoma" and "anaplastic astrocytoma". Basically getting more precise with time. Then "anaplastic astrocytoma untreated".
Major sites found:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007222.htm
http://www.abta.org/siteFiles/sitePages/D44722610B110F717677C81A685A98C9.pdf
http://www.2xst.com/cancer/index4-AnaplasticAstrocytoma.html
http://brain.mgh.harvard.edu/Glioblastoma.htm
http://www.astrocytoma.org/
www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Cancertype/Brain/Typesofbraintumour/Astrocytictumours