May marks Brain Tumor Awareness Month (BTAM), an annual recognition of what we deal with year-round at Advanced Neurosurgery Associates (ANA). Since this subject is so near and dear to our hearts, we eagerly welcome the opportunity to help the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) promote community awareness of both pediatric and adult brain tumors.
NBTS is the largest nonprofit in the United States dedicated to the brain tumor community. The organization, which is responsible for and spearheads BTAM, explains that this year’s theme is a play on the acronym (and social media hashtag) BTAM = BTeAM.
The theme emphasizes that the road to better brain tumor treatments and cures is paved with teamwork and collaboration. This includes the contributions of individuals and organizations from both inside and outside of the brain tumor community. In addition to building awareness for the cause, the effort largely focuses on advancing research and public policy. It’s all in the hopes of making strides to overcome a devastating disease that impacts nearly 700,000 Americans and millions more worldwide.
On the Horizon
At ANA, we join the scientific community in tracking and working toward continual advances in the detection and treatment of brain cancer. Our efforts to mark Brain Tumor Awareness Month also revolve around reviewing advances in the field such as:
Enhanced imaging tests. New imaging scan techniques are vital for initial detection as well as tracking treatment progress and tumor growth or recurrence.
Biomarkers. These are indicators of a tumor that are found in blood, urine or body tissue. They can be used to detect brain cancer before symptoms develop. Recent news has discussed the discovery of a new biomarker for glioma, a common type of brain cancer.
Immunotherapy. This type of therapy is designed to improve or restore immune system function by use of substances either made by the body or in a laboratory. The technique is meant to fight cancer by strengthening natural defenses. Immunotherapy has made significant progress and continues to be tested in clinical trials.
Oncolytic virus therapy. Meant to combat the side effects of traditional treatments (i.e., chemotherapy and radiotherapy), there are currently 48 oncolytic virus therapy clinical trials for various cancers. This therapeutic method is also being researched for brain tumors. In fact, the FDA has recently accelerated the development of the polio virus for treatment of brain cancer.
Targeted therapy. This treatment focuses on defective genes or proteins that contribute to cancer growth and development. It targets the way tumors grow or spread and how tumor cells die. Targeted therapies benefit from the use of advanced brain mapping.
Blood-brain barrier disruption. By temporarily disrupting the brain’s natural protective barrier, this treatment allows chemotherapy to enter the brain from the bloodstream more easily.
New drugs and combinations of drugs. Various new drugs are being tested for both pediatric and adult brain tumors. This includes the possible use of drugs for brain tumors that are currently being used for other cancers. It is important to continually develop this area, as tumors can become resistant to chemotherapy. This requires additional research for tumor cell resistance treatment.
Genetic therapy and research. This technique seeks to repair or replace abnormal genes that lead to tumor growth. Researchers are also seeking to establish a connection between genetics and brain cancer, such as glioblastoma. Recently, 13 new genetic markers were tied to gliomas. This is in addition to ongoing research on other genetic connections to this disease.
Spread the Word
In honor of Brain Tumor Awareness Month, the NBTS is urging all brain cancer research supporters to adopt its official color and “Go Gray in May!”
At ANA, we encourage you to wear your gray while exploring the variety of ways you can take action and spread the word. As the NBTS slogan states: Together, we are stronger than this disease. Let’s be powerhouses.