ASCO 2019: 90 Percent of Cancer Patients and Caregivers Surprised at Metastatic Brain Tumor Diagnosis

ASCO 2019: 90 Percent of Cancer Patients and Caregivers Surprised at Metastatic Brain Tumor Diagnosis

Preliminary Results of ABTA Metastatic Brain Tumor Initiative Patient and Caregiver Survey Presented at the American Society Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting


The American Brain Tumor Association presented preliminary survey findings from the first phase of the Metastatic Brain Tumor Initiative at the American Society Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting on June 2 in Chicago, IL. The ABTA’s study was accepted for poster presentation out of more than 6,200 abstract submissions. As one of the few selected on this topic within the brain tumor and central nervous system category, this demonstrates the competitive landscape at this leading oncology meeting.

Survey findings shed light on the metastatic brain cancer patient and caregiver experience demonstrating that the overwhelming majority (90%) were surprised by their personal diagnosis of brain metastasis. Seventy-seven percent of patients reported knowing little to nothing about brain metastases before their diagnosis. This highlights the lack of information along the trajectory of their primary cancer diagnosis and treatment; therefore, more information and resources are needed to support these patients and caregivers.

Metastatic brain tumors are cancerous cells that first develop outside of the brain, from another cancer, which then travel through the blood stream to grow in the brain. The most common primary cancer sites that may develop brain metastases are the skin (melanoma), breast, lung, colon/rectum and kidney. Metastatic brain tumors occur in about 35 percent of all metastatic cancers, and metastatic cancer is responsible for as much as 90 percent of all cancer deaths.

Other key findings of the ABTA survey include approximately a quarter of patients had been excluded from clinical trials related to their primary cancer because of brain metastases, and 19 percent had been denied participation in a clinical trial related to brain metastases because of previous treatments of their primary form of cancer. This showcases a need to expand enrollment of brain metastases patients in clinical trials and a need for growing support for cancer research.

The ABTA initiated the online survey between August 13, 2018 and September 16, 2018 among nearly 450 metastatic cancer patients and caregivers from across the country. This survey is the first of three phases in the ABTA Metastatic Brain Tumor Initiative. Further research findings, particularly focused on physicians who treat patients with brain metastases, will be presented later in Fall 2019.

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