May is also Brain Tumor Awareness Month
Along with stroke awareness month, May is also Brain tumor awareness month. Although most people have heard of Brain tumors, few know how widespread this incurable disease is. According to the National brain tumor society:
- An estimated 700,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor
- 80% tumors are benign
- 20% tumors are malignant
- An estimated 78,980 people will receive primary brain tumor diagnoses in 2018
- 55,1500 will be benign
- 23,830 will be malignant
- The average survival rate for all malignant brain tumor patients is only 34.7%
- Male: 33.8%
- For the most common form of primary malignant brain tumors, glioblastoma multiforme, the five-year relative survival rate is only 5.5%
- An estimated 16,616 people will die from malignant brain tumors (brain cancer) in 2018
- The most prevalent brain tumor types in adults:
- Meningiomas, which make-up 36.6% of all primary brain tumors
Gliomas (such as glioblastoma, ependymomas, astrocytomas, and oligodendrogliomas), which make-up 74.6% of malignant brain tumors
Unfortunately, more than any other cancer, brain tumors can have lasting and life-altering physical, cognitive, and psychological impacts on a patient’s life.
This means malignant brain tumors can often be described as equal parts neurological disease and deadly cancer.
It has been my experience that saying your tumor is benign gives people the impression that it is curable and isn’t a very serious situation, however this is not the case. Even benign brain tumors can be deadly if they interfere with portions of the brain responsible for vital bodily functions. It is also pretty safe to say that brain surgery is seldom benign.
There are more than 130 different types of brain tumors, many with their own multitude of subtypes. The table below shows the types of tumors that a few of our members have been diagnosed with :
|Name||Tumor type||Age at diagnosis||Initial symptoms|
|Jeff||Astrocytoma||20||Found while undergoing unrelated medical testing|
|Rick||Central neurocytoma||35||Uncontrollable, severe headache|
In my obviously biased opinion, research into this disease and possible cures is grossly underfunded and ineffective. Data collected by Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS) in CBTRUS Statistical Facts Report of Primary Brain and Other Central Nervous System Tumors Diagnosed in the United States in 2010 – 2014 suggest:
- Despite the amount of brain tumors, and their devastating prognosis, there have only been four (4) FDA approved drugs – and one device – to treat brain tumors in the past 30 years.
- For many tumor types, surgery and radiation remain the standard of care.
- There has never been a drug developed and approved specifically for malignant pediatric brain tumors.
- The four approved drugs for brain tumors have provided only incremental improvements to patient survival, and mortality rates remain little changed over the past 30 years.
- Between 1998 and 2014, there were 78 investigational brain tumor drugs that entered the clinical trial evaluation process. 75 failed. That is a 25:1 failure ratio in developing new brain tumor treatments over the past two decades.
It is often difficult to talk about such a hard topic, but always remember statistics don’t paint the whole picture. Brain tumor warriors are usually the bravest, toughest fighters you will ever meet. This is why we should all “Go Gray in May” to spread the word and get a spotlight aimed at this disease so that we can give hope to and encourage those living with or affected by brain tumors. NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE!
~Jenny, BIND Member