Cancer Types | Brain Cancer - National Foundation for Cancer Research

Brain Cancer

Brain Cancer

People of all ages are diagnosed with brain cancer, but there is more frequency among children and older adults. Brain cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in children (after leukemia).

Key Facts

  • Estimates of 94,390 brain tumors will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, and approximately 28% will be considered malignant – or cancerous.
  • An estimated 24,810 malignant tumors of the brain and spinal cord will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2023, with around 18,990 deaths expected to result from the diagnosis. 
  • Overall, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in his or her lifetime is less than 1% (about 1 in 143 for men and 1 in 185 for women).
  • Survival rates vary widely depending on the type of tumor.
  • Glioblastoma (GBM) is the deadliest type of brain cancer, accounting for  45% of all malignant brain tumors and the five-year average survival rate is only 5% or less.
Source: American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2023 and American Brain Tumor Association’s Brain Tumor Statistics; Global Coalition for Adaptive Research

Signs and Symptoms

A symptom is a change in the body that a person can see and/or feel. A sign is a change that the doctor sees during an examination or on a laboratory test result. If you have any of the symptoms below, it does not mean you have cancer but you should see your doctor or health care professional so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty thinking and/or speaking
  • Changes in personality
  • Loss of balance
  • Change in vision including blurriness, double vision, abnormal eye movements, light sensitivity and loss of vision
  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tingling or stiffness on one side of the body
Source: National Brain Tumor Society 2023
Brain Cancer Location
will be diagnosed in 2023
deaths expected in 2023
% lifetime risk of brain cancer
Silver Brain Cancer Ribbon

Brain Cancer Awareness Month is recognized in May. To help accelerate cures please make a gift today.

Researchers Working on Brain Cancer

Dr. Rakesh Jain
Dr. Rakesh Jain
Paul Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D.
Paul Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D.
Dr. Web Cavenee
Web Cavenee, Ph.D.
Cesare Spadoni, Ph.D.
Cesare Spadoni, Ph.D.
W. K. Alfred Yung, M.D.
W. K. Alfred Yung, M.D.

Related Updates

GBM Awareness Day – Make Cures Possible with NFCR

Today is GBM Awareness Day. GBM is one of the deadly cancers that has seen very few significant updates over the last 20 years. The lack of breakthroughs is not because researchers aren't trying - they are - but because there is a bottleneck at the clinical trial stage to approve better treatments. This bottleneck is one of the critical reasons NFCR, led by President & CEO Dr. Sujuan Ba, is committed to bringing new treatment options to patients through the GBM AGILE initiative. GBM AGILE is a paradigm-shifting clinical trial system. Our hope is that this can become the foundation for defeating other rare and complex cancers. GBM is the deadliest type of brain cancer, accounting for 45% of all malignant brain tumors and the five-year average survival rate is only 5% or less. Learn More about Brain Cancers. Dr. Ba is one of the few individuals who has been a part of GBM AGILE from the beginning, fighting for progress for cancer patients. "It is imperative that patients know we will not give up on them." NFCR Makes Cures Possible, and we intend to do the same for patients facing the deadliest brain cancer, GBM. GBM RESOURCES FROM NFCR Hope After a Glioblastoma Diagnosis Carmen Rice was given 6 months to live; 3 good, 3 bad. Over a decade later, she is still thriving and advocating for better options for other glioblastoma patients. Watch this video to better understand what glioblastoma patients are up against.  Caregiver Tips Tom and his wife Bernadette were happily living their daily life when they noticed Bernadette’s occasional fumbling for certain words or movements. Tom became his wife's caregiver and wants to share his tips and experience to help others in similar situations. GBM AGILE Learn more about the paradigm-shifting clinical trial system that efficiently tests new treatments, advancing effective ones faster and rejecting ineffective ones quickly.

NFCR On-Site for the Ringing of the Closing Bell at NASDAQ – May 19, 2023

The National Foundation for Cancer Research, on behalf of our researchers and supporters, has made it to the floor of Nasdaq! NFCR President & CEO Sujuan Ba, alongside her colleagues, rang the closing bell on Friday in honor of National Brain Tumor Awareness Month and #GBMAGILE.   This event brings NFCR and its partner organizations working on GBM AGILE into the well-deserving spotlight. Their tireless work to deliver the paradigm-shifting clinical trial GBM AGILE into practice is paying off! This game-changing clinical trial accelerates how we review and approve life-saving cancer treatments for the most difficult-to-treat cancers, such as glioblastoma. As a result, together, we are helping save patient lives. Special Thanks to the Global Coalition for Adaptive Research Team for inviting us to this momentous occasion.   NFCR views collaboration as a cornerstone of our mission. Through working together, we can combine resources and knowledge to make discoveries more quickly and deliver solutions to patients who need them most.   Learn more about GBM AGILE and how you can get involved.    In recognition of National Brain Tumor Awareness Month, please share NFCR's cancer information resources with your loved ones - it may help save their life.

Caregiver Resources for Taking Care of Someone Diagnosed with Glioblastoma (GBM) and other Cancers

Tom & Bernadette, November 2018 in Cienfuegos Cuba Mountain Park. “It was here first symptoms appeared but we did not know it. It was a rocky path up the mountain to view the falls and scenery. Bernadette could not keep up. She was upset because she felt she was holding me back.  I told her we are doing fine. We blamed it on being tired. In retrospect her feet would not go where she wanted them placed.” A cancer diagnosis is a devastating new reality for the individual facing the disease and their surrounding family and loved ones. Amidst the overwhelming number of questions regarding treatment options, a new way of life sets in. Being a caregiver can be scary. Because of this, NFCR supporter Tom wants to share his experience with others. Tom benefited immensely from the support and suggestions his friends and family could provide. As such, he wants to share his insights for all who seek assistance caring for someone they love, particularly those caring for someone with glioblastoma (GBM), which comes with a unique set of challenges. He hopes that others will also share their experiences to create a centralized, accessible resource should they find themselves in a similar situation. Early Indicators of Disease Tom and his wife Bernadette were happily living their daily life when they noticed Bernadette’s occasional fumbling for certain words or movements. At first, these actions seemed small and thus insignificant, attributing it perhaps to age. But as a registered nurse certified in Gerontology, Bernadette’s instinct kicked in, and concern quickly grew about the possibility of a brain tumor. Bernadette was then diagnosed with Stage IV glioblastoma in December 2018. She continued to lose her motor skills and inability to communicate and grew frustrated with her diminishing abilities. Consequently, Tom became Bernadette’s full-time caregiver while she sought radiation and chemotherapy. Bernadette received speech and physical therapy at home. Cancer Caregiver Tips from Tom While caring for his wife, Tom observed three critical areas of her life that needed special attention and extra care: her comfort, her movement and mobility, and her communication.  Because GBM endangers the brain, there are recognizable symptoms that help you provide better comfort and ease of day-to-day management. Symptoms of brain tumors can include: Muscle weakness or loss of balance Headaches Memory problems Nausea and vomiting  Seizures Speech problems Loss of appetite Blurred or double vision Mood or personality changes Changes in sensation Numbness or tingling Learn more about the signs and symptoms of brain cancer and other cancers. In doing so, you may help save your or a loved one’s life. Tips for Improving Comfort First, understand what goes into creating a comfortable environment for your loved one and commit to building it. For example, Bernadette would become upset if the TV was turned off, so Tom ensured the TV was always on in the background. She also requested Dr. Seuss' 'Yurtle the Turtle' be read to her, which Tom happily obliged, despite confusing them. Loud noises were also avoided in their home after Bernadette received her biopsy. Knowing they were possible, Tom posted instructions on identifying a seizure in their [...]