There are many types of cancers that can arise in the brain, which include cancers that originate in the brain, often called gliomas or glioblastoma multiform (GBM). These cancers can be highly lethal and are often treated with surgery, radiation, and a chemotherapy, temozolomide (Temodar). Temodar is one of the few cancer drugs which can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. In the US, gliomas, and GBMs make up ~30,000 cases a year.
Another class of brain cancer is cancer that originates in a different organ and eventually metastasizes to the brain. The most common brain metastasis come from lung, breast, melanoma (skin), and kidney cancers. The collection of brain metastasis makes up ~250,000 cases a year and growing rapidly. In fact, as we develop better therapies in these indications, we are seeing a rapid rise in brain metastasis. For example, the rate of brain metastasis in advanced breast cancer has increased from ~12% in 2000 to an estimated 30% rate. Treatment of brain metastasis may include radiation therapy and surgery or other ablative techniques. Systemic agents utilized to treat these cancers have less benefit once the cancer metastasizes to the brain.
For more information on brain cancers, please see the National Brain Tumor Society.