BRAIN TUMOR BASICS

Malignant brain tumors are one of the most lethal forms of cancer. Approximately 70,000 new cases of primary brain tumors were diagnosed in 2013. In 2010, researchers estimated that more than 689,000 people in the United States were living with a primary brain tumor. These statistics double if metastatic brain tumors (tumors which spread from other cancerous lesions) are also accounted for.

Each year, approximately 4,300 patients under the age of 20 will be diagnosed with primary brain tumors. Seventy-five percent of those patients will be under the age of 15. Brain tumors are the second most common and second deadliest of all cancers in children under the age of 15.

The prevalence of primary brain tumors is 22 cases per 10,000 people. This data extrapolates to approximately 10,000 people having brain tumors who live in Northeast Ohio.

Glioma tumors,make up 30% of all brain tumors and 80% of all brain tumors that are malignant. Astrocytomas and glioblastoma combined represent 76% of all gliomas. Glioma tumors are some of the most difficult of all cancers to treat.

Over the past fifteen years, treatment advancements have not improved glioma patients' life expectancy by more than four months. However, recent advances do appear to be promising. New and repurposed drugs, vaccines, and immune boosters are being used with better success.

Other areas of treatment breakthroughs for brain tumors include:

  1. Targeted therapies designed to interrupt signaling pathways and gene expression to slow down or stop brain tumor growth.
  2. Personalized treatment using biomarkers to help monitor patient response to treatment.
  3. Improving imaging techniques to better assess treatment response.
  4. Developing better vaccines and immunotherapy to boost the patient's immune system to supplement standard treatment.