Understanding GBM

Today, July 19, is Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Awareness Day—a day dedicated to raising awareness about the most dangerous type of cancerous brain tumor there is.

GBM is one of the most complex, deadly, and treatment-resistant cancers. It accounts for 14.2 percent of all tumors and just over 50 percent of all primary malignant brain tumors in the United States at any given time. More than 14,490 Americans are expected to receive a GBM diagnosis in 2023, up from 12,000 cases annually just a few years ago.

Currently, there is no cure for this condition.

According to the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), the five-year relative survival rate of GBM is only 6.9 percent, and the median survival is only 8 months. At the same time, for patients with malignant brain tumors, the five-year relative survival rate following diagnosis is 35.7 percent.

Some can survive for years after a GBM diagnosis. Dr. Tresa Roebuck Spencer, former president of the National Academy of Neuropsychology and a lifelong advocate for neuropsychology, received a GBM diagnosis nearly three years ago and is still fighting—be sure to read our Q&A with Dr. Spencer.

The NBTS has put together some interesting data points about GBM to commemorate GBM Awareness Day. Here are some of those data:

  • An estimated 1 million Americans are living with a primary brain tumor.
  • Approximately 81.7 percent of all primary brain tumors occur in the adult population.
  • An estimated 94,390 people will receive a new primary brain tumor diagnosis in 2023.
  • Brain tumors are the seventh most common tumor type overall and the sixth most common cause of cancer related death among people over age 40.
  • GBM is the second most common (16.4 percent) type of brain tumor, but meningiomas are nearly three times more prevalent (46.1 percent).
  • Brain cancer is estimated to be the 10th leading cause of cancer death in 2023 for both males and females in all age groups.

For more information about GBM, please visit the NBTS or the American Brain Tumor Association.