Immunotherapy for Brain Cancer
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What Makes Immunotherapy a Promising Treatment for Brain Cancer?

Reviewed By: David A. Reardon, M.D.
Clinical Director, Center for Neuro-Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


In the United States, brain cancer accounts for 1 in every 100 cancer diagnoses, and is one of the primary cancers that affects children and young adults. It is estimated that 1 in 161 individuals born today will develop brain or nervous system cancer at some point in their lives. In the U.S., 23,770 men and women, including are diagnosed with cancer of the brain and nervous system every year, and 16,050 deaths are caused by the disease. There are several types of brain cancer, classified by the type of cell from which they originate, including Gliomas, Astrocytomas, and Meningiomas. Cancers of the central nervous system include neuroblastoma, which typically affects children. 

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most dangerous and aggressive form of brain cancer. GBM patients typically have short life expectancies, and very few will live more than three years post-diagnosis. In children, treatment for brain cancer is urgently needed. Brain cancer is the second most common form of cancer in children, accounting for 21% of all pediatric cancers in the United States. In fact, brain cancer is the most common form of solid tumor and the leading cause of death from cancer among children.

As brain tumors grow in size, they can cause a wide variety of painful and life-altering symptoms for patients of the disease, often due to the pressure these tumors inflict on the brain, or the ways in which the tumors interfere with normal, healthy brain function. The majority of brain cancers are highly invasive, stifling healthy brain cells and damaging normal tissue—though this disease rarely spreads to parts of the body beyond the brain.

While the cause of this disease is not yet understood, brain cancer is one of the main cancer types for which new immunotherapy treatments are being developed. Already. There are two immunotherapies approved for brain and nervous system cancers, one for adults, bevacizumab, and one for children, dinutuximab. Furthermore, the following  brain cancer immunotherapies being tested in clinical trials include: adoptive cell therapy, adjuvant immunotherapies, cancer vaccines, checkpoint inhibitors, oncolytic virus therapy, and monoclonal antibodies.

Are you a patient or caregiver interested in learning more about cancer immunotherapy treatment and clinical trials? If so, visit our Patient section on immunotherapy for brain cancer.

CRI's Impact on Brain Cancer

Despite significant advances in the understanding of brain cancer, and improvements to diagnosis, treatments, and patient quality of life, the mortality rate for brain cancer has remained consistent for more than three decades. It's time to go all in for brain cancer by supporting urgently needed immunology research in the field of this aggressive and tragic disease.

At CRI, it’s our mission to save more lives by developing immunotherapy as a cure for all cancers, including brain cancer. We do this through the dedicated funding of important cancer research around the world. Won't you join us in making a difference in the lives of brain cancer patients and their families?

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*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.