May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month

Please join with the AACR to find better ways to prevent and treat brain cancer

Brain Cancer Awareness Month

Doctors will diagnose cancers of the brain or central nervous system in about 25,400 people in the United States in 2024, according to the National Cancer Institute. These cancers make up a portion of the more than 94,000 brain tumors (including benign tumors) that will occur in this country in 2024. 

There are many types of brain and spinal cord tumors. The tumors result from the abnormal growth of cells and may be either benign or malignant. Benign brain and spinal cord tumors grow and press on nearby areas of the brain. Normally, they rarely spread into other tissues.

Malignant brain and spinal cord tumors are likely to grow quickly and spread into other brain tissue. 

Unfortunately, when a tumor grows into or presses on an area of the brain, it may stop that part of the brain from functioning normally. Both benign and malignant brain tumors produce signs and symptoms and need treatment.

Tumors that start in the brain are called primary brain tumors. Primary brain tumors may spread to other parts of the brain or to the spine. But they rarely spread to other parts of the body.

Metastatic brain tumors

Many tumors found in the brain actually started somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain. These are called metastatic brain tumors, and they are more common than primary brain tumors. In fact, about half of metastatic brain tumors are from lung cancer. Even after these tumors spread to the brain, they are still called lung cancer, or wherever they originated.

To read more about how this happens, see “Treating Brain Metastases” in the Winter 2022-2023 issue of Cancer Today. (This is a magazine published by AACR.)

The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program estimates that some 18,760 people in the U.S. will die from these cancers in 2024.

one person’s story

On the AACR’s blog, Cancer Research Catalyst, you can read the inspiring story of a 41-year-old man who has dealt with glioblastoma for the past seven years: Forging a Path as an Advocate for Glioblastoma Research

What the AACR Is Currently Doing in Brain Cancer Research

The AACR supports several researchers for their work in the field of brain cancers:  

  • 2023 AACR-AstraZeneca Career Development Award for Physician-Scientists, in Honor of José Baselga: Kristopher Bosse, MD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “Murine GPC2 CAR T cells to define mechanisms of immune escape.”
  • 2023 AACR-Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Medulloblastoma Research Fellowship: Jennifer C. Coleman, PhD, University of Cambridge, “Examining Life-or-Death Stress Responses in DEAD-box Helicase X-linked (DDX3X)-Mutated Medulloblastoma.”
  • 2023 AACR-Sontag Foundation Brain Cancer Research Fellowship: Zulekha A. Qadeer, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, “Targeting epigenetic drivers in group 3 medulloblastoma.”
  • 2023 AACR-StacheStrong Glioblastoma Research Fellowship: Raghavendra Vadla, PhD, University of California, San Diego, “Targeting Bromodomain Containing 2 Protein to Inhibit Mesenchymal Transition in Recurrent Glioblastoma”

Earlier grants

  • 2022 AACR-Day One Biopharmaceuticals Pediatric Cancer Research Fellowship: Joelle Straehla, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, “Investigating the blood-tumor barrier to design effective nanocarriers.”
  • 2022 AACR-Novocure Career Development Award for Tumor Treating Fields Research: Chirag B. Patel, MD, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, “Increasing glioblastoma cell membrane permeability with TTFields.”
  • 2022 AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Grant: Matthew R. Sarkisian, PhD, University of Florida, “Improving TTFields Efficacy by Altering Ciliogenesis.”
  • 2022 AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Grant Stuart Smith, BM, BCh, PhD, University of Nottingham, “Combining Tumor Treating Fields with Ion Channel Blockade.”
  • 2021 AACR-Novocure Career Development Award for Tumor Treating Fields Research: Gerben Borst, MD, PhD, The University of Manchester, “Unraveling the cell cycle effect of TTFields towards synergistic strategies.”
  • 2021 AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Grant: Spencer J. Collis, PhD, University of Sheffield, “TTFields-based DDRi combinations to overcome spatiofunctional heterogeneity.”
  • 2021 AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Grant: Sara G.M. Piccirillo, PhD, University of New Mexico, “The impact of Tumor-Treating Fields on residual disease in glioblastoma.”
  • 2020 AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Grant Supplemental Funds: Christopher Douglas Willey, MD, PhD, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, “Exploring Novo-TTF in advanced patient derived GBM models with multi-omics.”

for more information

Please see our page on brain and spinal cord tumors, which includes information on potential treatments.