Brain tumors come in many different types, with many different causes and symptoms. In general, a brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells in or around your brain. A tumor can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).
Brain tumors can also be classified as primary or secondary. Primary tumors start in the brain when cells grow abnormally and multiply. Secondary tumors come from cancer that started in another part of the body but has metastasized, or spread.
The American Brain Tumor Association estimates that about 78,000 primary brain tumors are diagnosed each year, 53,000 of them being non-cancerous. The American Cancer Society predicts that, of the 25,000 cancerous tumors of the brain or spinal cord diagnosed each year, about 17,000 of them will prove fatal.
Brain tumors can affect people of all ages and stages of life. Despite major scientific advances in our understanding of these cancers, many types of primary brain tumors remain without a cure. Ongoing research is important to learn more about how to diagnose, treat, and cure these tumors.
These seven charities have been making great strides in funding research and helping people with brain tumors get valuable resources and support.
In 2001, Dan Case was diagnosed with brain cancer. Frustrated with the lack of information and treatment options available, Case decided to apply venture capital principles to brain cancer research. He fought to accelerate brain cancer research up until losing his own battle with cancer. Today, Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, or ABC2, continues his mission.
In addition to awarding grant money to researchers, ABC2 invests in early stage biotech companies and develops relationships with multinational pharmaceutical companies. By working with both researchers and companies, the nonprofit helps to connect researchers with companies that might be able to produce a new treatment they’ve developed.
In 1973, mothers Susan Netchin Kramer and Linda Gene Goldstein founded the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) after both losing young daughters to brain tumors. When Kramer and Goldstein were going through diagnosis and treatment for their daughters, there was little research or support. They wanted to change that for other parents and children.
The national organization focuses on funding brain tumor research and providing education and information for all types of tumors, across age groups. It’s recognized as a top charity by the BBB Giving Wise Alliance, Charity Navigator, and CharityWatch.
This year, ABTA launched a free online support group facilitator program for nurses, social workers, and community volunteers. The training is designed to increase the number of qualified support group leaders who can help connect brain tumor survivors and their families.
The Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF) was founded in 1988 by a group of parents, doctors, and friends. The nonprofit’s mission is to help advance treatments and improve quality of life by funding research, and providing education, support, and advocacy for children with brain tumors and their families.
CBTF has given over $5 million in grants to research projects for pediatric brain and spinal cord tumors. A large part of the Foundation’s work also involves connecting families and providing them with resources at each stage, from diagnosis to bereavement. Programs include Jenna’s Corner, an online support community, and Family 2 Family, a mentor program that connects survivor families with those in the earlier stages of diagnosis and treatment.
The International Brain Tumor Alliance (IBTA) was founded in 2005 to create a worldwide community connecting brain tumor researchers and organizations. Today, it has a foothold in over 100 countries. IBTA believes that by connecting researchers, medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, media organizations, and more, it can help to expand research and treatment options for brain tumors.
In 2015, IBTA held the second World Summit of Brain Tumor Patient Advocates, which drew participants from 27 different countries to discuss the latest developments in brain tumor, research, education, and treatments.
The nonprofit also publishes an annual magazine featuring news about new treatments and other developments in the international brain tumor community.
A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure focuses on funding to accelerate research for the most common forms of pediatric brain cancer. The nonprofit also acts as a resource for anyone seeking more information on the most common forms of pediatric brain tumors. The organization holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and says it has raised over $14.5 million towards research to date.
In summer 2016, the organization’s 5th annual Pediatric Low Grade Glioma week at Camp Sunshine hosted 40 families from 7 different states. The retreat allows families to form bonds, enjoy nature, and get access to important new research and treatment developments.
The National Brain Tumor Society’s (NBTS) mission is to help improve the lives of people living with brain tumors. The organization truly has a national footprint, awarding grants and hosting charity events across the country. It’s recognized as a high-rated charity by Charity Navigator, an independent non-profit dedicated to educating donors about how charities operate and spend donations.
In September, the non-profit launched its first capital campaign, called Project Impact, designed to raise over $2.5 million over five years. The funds will go towards accelerating research on improving outcomes for children with brain tumors.
In addition to fundraising for clinical research, NBTS also lobbies to push for federal funding.
Being a nonpartisan organization, National Brain Tumor Society has already reached out to President-elect Trump in order to ask that his administration make brain tumor research a priority.
The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation began in 1984 as a motorcycle charity ride. Motorcycle enthusiasts Mike and Dianne Traynor wanted to do something to help when they learned a colleague’s child was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Their first Ride for Kids raised $4,000. In 1991, American Honda became a sponsor and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation was formed.
The Foundation focuses on raising money for research, increasing public awareness, and providing educational and emotional support to children and families. It has a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator and a gold rating from Guidestar.
This October, PBTF closed its Ride for Kids motorcycle charity season with an LA event that raised more than $220,000 for the Foundation.