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Almost any diagnosis of cancer is accompanied by feelings of profound anxiety. But perhaps none inspires more fear than a diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor. While brain cancers represent a relatively small proportion of overall cancer cases in our population, the personal impact of these tumor types captures the public imagination like no other. The most common and aggressive form of malignant brain tumors is called glioblastoma. This cancer often strikes adults in the prime of their lives, although it can also occur in children and adolescents.

Treatment for glioblastoma typically involves surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, followed by radiation therapy, combined with an oral chemotherapy drug called temozolomide (Temodar®). Until recently, patients whose disease progressed despite treatment had few available options. Now, new drugs called antiangiogenic agents that are designed to target the blood supply feeding tumors are starting to improve the outlook for patients with recurrent brain cancer. These drugs are extending the lives of many brain cancer patients, when previously survival has traditionally been measured in weeks.

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Last updated March 1, 2012