Following the death of the son of the United States vice-president, Joe Biden, to brain cancer, it has been revealed that a variety of malignant brain and central nervous system tumors kill about 15,000 people in the United States each year.
Joseph Robinette "Beau" Biden III died on Saturday night at age 46, although the exact type of brain cancer which killed him has not yet been revealed.
According to experts and data from various cancer organizations, the deaths from brain cancer often happen after difficult courses of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Here are 10 important facts about brain cancer raised by experts as reported by the Washington Post:
According to Brian Alexander, a radiation oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, patients with Grade 4 glioblastomas, which is the most aggressive type, survive a median of 14 and half months after diagnosis.
Adults can suffer from Grade 2, 3 or 4 malignancies, living for 10 years or more if they have the mildest type, and younger adults like the late Biden tend to live longer than older ones.
Brain cancers also "can morph from a lower-grade version to a higher-grade version over time". This is according to Deepa Subramaniam, director of the brain tumor center at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Brain tumors are a particularly common form of cancer in children. About 4,300 children and teens will be diagnosed with malignant tumors this year in the United States, more than half of them younger than 15.
Brain tumors generally do not spread to other parts of the body, unlike most other cancers. They kill by interfering with normal body function, depending on their location in the brain, also malignancies can develop in most areas of the brain.
Brain cancer treatment generally involves surgery first, if possible, to remove as much of the tumor as possible, although surgeons sometimes will leave portions of the tumor in the brain to preserve body function. Surgery is then followed by radiation and chemotherapy, often with the drug temozolomide, which patients tend to tolerate well
According to Nader Sanai, a brain tumor surgeon and brain cancer researcher at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, for most incurable brain tumors, the primary challenge is managing the portions of the tumor that are undetectable by diagnostic imaging.
These tumor cells are often the source of recurrence, as they travel undetected to other brain regions of the patient and then driving the formation of new areas of growth with little warning.
Dr Sanai further adds that most malignant brain tumors eventually recur.