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Glioblastoma (GBM) is a disease that all Americans should care about. It can strike men, women, and children of any age, background, and walk of life. It does not discriminate on gender, socioeconomic status, region, age, or political party. Learn more about GBM below, including what the National Brain Tumor Society is doing to find better treatments and a cure.

Glioblastoma Facts & Figures

  • Glioblastoma (or GBM) is one of the most complex, deadly, and treatment-resistant cancers.
  • More than 13,000 Americans are expected to receive a GBM diagnosis in 2020.
  • GBM accounts for 48 percent of all primary malignant brain tumors.
  • It is estimated that more than 10,000 individuals in the United States will succumb to glioblastoma every year.
  • The five-year survival rate for glioblastoma patients is only 6.8 percent, and the average length of survival for glioblastoma patients is estimated to be only 12 to 18 months.
  • Survival rates and mortality statistics for GBM have been virtually unchanged for decades.
  • Despite first being identified in the scientific literature in the 1920’s, there have only been four drugs and one device ever approved by the FDA for the treatment of glioblastoma.
  • None of these treatments have succeeded in significantly extending patient lives beyond a few extra months.
  • Some patients have a glioblastoma upon diagnosis (de novo or primary GBM), while other patients’ tumors start as another, lower-grade type of brain tumor and over time progress into a glioblastoma (secondary GBM). A vast majority of GBM diagnoses are de novo.
  • Mean age at diagnosis is 64.
  • In addition to being life-threatening, GBM – and its harsh treatments – inflict devastation upon the brain, which controls cognition, mood, behavior, and every function of every organ and body part.
  • Many patients will lose their ability to work, drive, and a host of other functions that contribute to one’s sense of self and independence.
  • Glioblastoma is also one of the more expensive cancers to treat, often leaving patients and families with major financial hardship on top of the burdens of the disease.
  • Prominent Americans who’ve been lost to this type of cancer include: Beau Biden (son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and former Attorney General for the state of Delaware); Gary Carter (Hall of Fame Major League Baseball player); U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy (Democratic politician); U.S. Senator John McCain (Republican politician and former presidential nominee); and Edward “Tug” McGraw (Major League Baseball player and father of country music star and actor, Tim McGraw).

Despite these daunting facts and figures, there is hope. Science is advancing rapidly and there are promising research strategies moving forward.

Test Your Knowledge

The first step in taking action to confront glioblastoma is to ensure you know the realities of the urgent medical need this disease presents, as well as the opportunities to make progress toward better treatments and a cure. Take this quick “quiz” to see how much you already know (and learn what you might not) about GBM.

Working Toward Solutions

National Brain Tumor Society understands that the narrative must be rewritten for GBM patients. In an effort to solve the GBM puzzle and bring treatments to patients as quickly as possible, NBTS established the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative in 2013. The Defeat GBM Research Collaborative is a groundbreaking, research-based initiative to drive research forward with the aim of doubling the five-year survival rate of GBM patients.

NBTS supports a major, game-changing new clinical trial called GBM AGILE that completely re-imagines how treatments are evaluated. GBM AGILE will ultimately test multiple new potential treatments simultaneously (instead of one at a time) and lower the cost, shorten the time, and decrease the amount of trial participants needed to advance an investigational drug toward approval and into the hands of patients.

Recently, NBTS under its new treatment-focused research and drug development program, Defeat Brain Tumors, has announced funding for three projects that will evaluate targeted treatments and immunotherapy for GBM patients. Additionally, NBTS-led advocacy efforts, with the dedicated support of our volunteer brain tumor advocates, has been successful in increasing the amount of money the federal government spends on cancer research, including GBM research. NBTS also works closely with stakeholders from industry, academia, and government to collaboratively tackle issues and challenges that slow research and GBM drug develop through programs like our Research Roundtables. Finally, NBTS offers a number of resources and support services and programs to patients and caregivers to help them navigate their GBM treatment experience.

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