Brain Tumor Awareness Month happens every year in May. It’s a month dedicated to supporting the brain tumor community and raising awareness to help fund much needed cancer research. It’s also an opportunity to highlight the quality-of-life benefits proton therapy treatment can provide for patients with brain tumors. To help the spread the word, we’ve put together some key statistics, signs & symptoms, and helpful resources you can share with your networks to support the cause.
ABOUT BRAIN TUMORS
Tumors in the brain can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign), but any brain tumor can be dangerous due to its location in the central nervous system (CNS). They can put pressure on healthy parts of the brain or spread into those areas. Brain tumors can also block the flow of fluid around the brain, which can increase the pressure inside the skull.
Tumors that develop in the brain are called primary brain tumors. These are relatively rare compared to secondary (or metastatic) brain tumors, which develop elsewhere in the body, then spread to the brain. The most common primary brain tumors include meningioma, glioblastoma, and astrocytoma.
- In the U.S., about 25,000 adults will be diagnosed with a primary brain or spinal cord tumor in 2022
- More than 4,000 children under 15 years old will also be diagnosed
- It is estimated more than 18,000 American adults will die from a primary brain or CNS cancer this year
- 5-year survival rate for people in the U.S. with a primary brain or CNS cancer is only 36%
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Because there are more than 120 types of brain tumors, the signs can vary. However, if one or more of these symptoms persistently occurs, that person should consult their physician.
- Unexplained nausea or vomiting
- New pattern of headaches
- Headaches that become more frequent/severe
- Double vision, loss of peripheral vision, or blurred vision
- Loss of sensation or movement in a limb over time
- Difficulties with speech
- Personality changes
- Seizures, particularly in a person who does not have a history of seizures
- Hearing issues
BRAIN TUMOR TREATMENT
Much like the symptoms, the wide variety of brain tumor types means there are several different treatment options. The specific classification and aggressiveness of a tumor will help determine the appropriate treatment, which can include radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, or some combination of these.
Radiation therapy may be prescribed to destroy the cancer cells and prevent them from regrowing. However, due to the location of a brain tumor, it is very important to avoid unnecessary radiation to the healthy cells near the tumor. That’s why proton therapy is an ideal option for many patients.
Proton therapy precisely targets the brain tumor, sparing the surrounding area. This lowers the risk of side effects, which can include neurological dysfunction and loss of cognitive skills. For example, studies show that in the treatment or meningioma, proton therapy led to a 55% reduction in average radiation dose to the hippocampi – the part of the brain that controls memory function.1 Another study revealed that proton therapy patients were 50% less likely to develop a secondary brain tumor after treatment.2
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Brain Tumor Awareness Month is dedicated to supporting, empowering, and amplifying the voice of the brain tumor community. In addition to sharing the stats, symptoms, and treatment options listed above, you can also share this inspiring video to help raise awareness.
The National Brain Tumor Society has also created a number of shareable infographics you can download and post to your social media pages. If you or someone you know has been affected by a brain tumor, be sure to share the story on social media and use the hashtag #BTAM to help raise awareness.
Sources & Studies
- Arvold ND, Niemierko A, Broussard GP, Fullerton B,Loeffler JS, Shih HA, et al. Projected Second Tumor Risk and Dose to Neurocognitive Structures After Proton Versus Photon Radiotherapy for Benign Meningioma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Jan;83(4):E495-500. Read More
- Dennis ER, Bussière MR, Niemierko A, et al. A Comparison of Critical Structure Dose and Toxicity Risks in Patients with Low Grade Gliomas Treated with IMRT versus Proton Radiation Therapy. Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment. 2013 Feb:1-9. Read More