Last Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced that he would leave his recuperation from brain surgery and return to Washington for a critical vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The dramatic announcement underscores the mettle that McCain’s friends and foes noted when the diagnosis of his brain tumor was revealed. Surely a man who could survive unfathomable hardships in a POW camp had what it takes to beat cancer.
Unfortunately, McCain is facing long odds. Glioblastoma, the kind of tumor he has, is an aggressive and deadly cancer. Only 50 percent survive more than a year from diagnosis, and only 5 percent survive five years or more. Just in the realm of politics and just in recent memory, this type of tumor claimed the lives of Sen. Edward Kennedy and the former vice president’s son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.
Thanks to efforts such as the Cancer Genome Atlas, funded by the National Cancer Institute, the scientific community knows more about GBM than just about any other cancer. We have created massive databases of molecular information about GBM patients, allowing us to map the cancer’s genomic profile. On top of that, because of the rapid adoption of precision oncology, hospitals and cancer centers are gathering a wealth of real-world data about GBM patients, including how molecular data is tied to treatments and outcomes.
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