Glioblastoma is an aggressive and hard-to-treat type of brain cancer. It’s the most common type of brain cancer in adults. But because it affects fewer than 10 in 100,000 people each year, it’s considered to be a rare disease.
Defining the boundaries of glioblastoma tumors is important for treatment. One key region represents the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier inside the tumor. Another, called the tumor core, could be relevant for surgical removal. It is also typically measured to assess treatment response. A third region, the whole tumor, represents infiltrated tissue that might be treated with radiation. Identifying these regions with precision can be difficult, especially in facilities without many cases of the disease.
Despite years of progress in understanding glioblastoma, survival rates have only slightly improved over the past two decades. One roadblock has been the difficulty of collecting large and diverse data sets for this rare cancer. Big data sets could potentially give new insights. But sharing such data across institutions poses challenges for patient privacy and other legal reasons.