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

This year some 24,810 people in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with brain cancer and other nervous system cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. These cancers make up a portion of the nearly 94,390 brain tumors that will be diagnosed in this country in 2023. 

There are many types of brain and spinal cord tumors. The tumors are formed by 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. They rarely spread into other tissues and may recur. 

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

When a tumor grows into or presses on an area of the brain, it may stop that part of the brain from working the way it should. 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 rarely spread to other parts of the body. Often, tumors found in the brain have started somewhere else in the body and spread to one or more parts of the brain. These are called metastatic brain tumors.

Metastatic brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors. About half of metastatic brain tumors are from lung cancer. 

The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program estimates that some 18,990 people in the U.S. will die from brain and other nervous system cancers in 2023.

Most tumors that occur in the brain are not brain cancer as such but metastases from cancers elsewhere in the body, such as the lungs. To read more about brain metastases from solid tumors, see “Treating Brain Metastases” in the Winter 2022-2023 issue of Cancer Today, published by AACR.

one person’s story

On the AACR’s blog, Cancer Research Catalyst, 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

In October 2023 the AACR will host an AACR Special Conference: Brain Cancer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which will help participants gain a more in-depth understanding of the unique environment of brain tumors and develop novel therapeutic and prevention strategies for both primary and secondary brain cancers.

Supporting Research

The AACR was pleased to support several researchers for their work in the field of brain cancers:  

  • 2023 AACR-John and Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation Basic Cancer Research Fellowship: Ana Rita Nobre, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “Unveiling the Re-programming of Choroid Plexus and Leptomeningeal Metastasis.”
  • 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 Awards for Tumor Treating Fields Research: Gerben Borst, MD, PhD, 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: Chang-Young Jang, PhD, Sookmyung Women’s University, “Identification of new target of TTFs in mitosis for therapeutic application
  • 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.”

for more information

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