Due to the devastating nature of brain tumors, the brain tumor community has exhibited profound interest in anything that has the potential of mitigating the effects of the disease. Many believe that early detection could possibly play an important role in creating better outcomes for those who have been diagnosed with brain tumors. Because the National Brain Tumor Society is fiercely committed to improving the lives of all those affected by brain tumors, we advocate for two types of research on this subject: research that will gather data that shows that early detection improves outcomes, and research that seeks to find brain tumor biomarkers that can be used in screening tests.
Little research has been done on whether early detection improves an individual’s prognosis, lessens long-term side effects, and reduces costs associated with treatment. There is some indication that this might be the case. The earlier a brain tumor is detected, the smaller the tumor and the less likely the tumor has significantly infiltrated normal brain tissue. This increases the chance that the tumor can be totally or almost totally resected during surgery which could be an important factor in an individual’s prognosis. A smaller tumor also means that that a smaller area of the brain will need to be subjected to radiotherapy, minimizing the adverse effects of radiation.
Even if early diagnosis is found to be advantageous, at this point there is not an accessible, efficient, cost-effective early screening tool. A simple detection test that looks for a biomarker of a brain tumor would be incredibly valuable as testing could be done repeatedly, on a wide scale, and relatively inexpensively.