National Glioblastoma Awareness Day: July 21, 2021

Jul 21 8:00am | Megan Roessler M. Ed. | @meganroessler

Article contributed by Cancer Education Center staff member, Jane Brandhagen

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a glioblastoma, you know it is a highly aggressive and difficult to treat brain cancer. With a 5-year survival rate of 7%, and a median length of survival being only 12-18 months, the prognosis is dire. The standard treatment of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy hasn't significantly changed in several years, and unfortunately , is not curative.  Glioblastomas are considered rare compared to other more prevalent cancer types such as breast, prostate and lung.  Because of this, it hasn't received the same amount of national attention.  It's time to bring light to this devastating disease by accelerating brain tumor research!

To give hope and develop better treatments, July 21, 2021 is designated as National Glioblastoma Awareness Day.  The goal being to advance the understanding and treatment of brain tumors with the purpose of extending and ultimately saving lives.

Mayo Clinic and other national cancer centers are currently studying new approaches to fight glioblastoma with immunotherapy, a treatment that uses a person's own immune system to attack cancer cells. One such study is the development of a dendritic cell vaccine.  We usually think of a vaccine as being given to healthy people to help prevent diseases, such as the HPV vaccine which can prevent cervical, and mouth and throat cancer.  However, some vaccines can help treat cancer.  This involves boosting cells that produce an anti-cancerous tumor immune response.  Other immunotherapy methods under investigation for glioblastoma include (CAR)-T cell therapy and extracellular vesicles.  For more information visit Mayo Clinic's website.

The media has recently highlighted the dismal prognosis of glioblastoma from the deaths of John McCain and Beau Biden, but additional awareness is essential.  Through the research efforts of neuro and radiation oncologists, along with basic scientists, there is hope new therapies will be developed and perfected.

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